Triple-A Scranton (5-2 loss to Pawtucket)
- SS Derek Jeter: 2-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 E (fielding) — had a little more on him earlier
- CF Melky Mesa: 0-1 — pulled up lame running out a ground ball … would really suck for him if it’s anything more than a day-to-day problem since September call-ups are right around the corner
- 3B David Adams: 1-4, 1 K
- LHP Cesar Cabral: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 3/1 GB/FB — 13 of 24 pitches were strikes (64%)
In his first minor league rehab game with Triple-A Scranton, Derek Jeter went 2-for-3 with a double to left and an infield single on a ball hit up the middle. He also tried to lay down a sacrifice (!) before bunting the ball foul and eventually reaching on a fielder’s choice to first. The Cap’n fielded just two ground balls in his five innings at shortstop, making the play on one and booting the other for an error. I’m not exactly sure what the plan is going forward, but Jeter and his strained calf are expected to remain with the RailRiders for at least one more game on Friday. · (15) ·
I really wish I could remember anything about Mariano Rivera‘s time as a starter. It’s all a blur, washing down the same drain as Sergio Mitre and Sidney Ponson starts. That’s unfair to Mo, really, but he was pretty awful as a starting pitcher. Like 5.94 ERA and 124 OPS+ against awful. That video above is from the best of his ten career starts, this eleven-strikeout, two-hit gem against the White Sox on Independence Day 1995. Good grief was that a long time ago.
Here is your open thread for the night. SNY is broadcasting the Staten Island Yankees-Brooklyn Cyclones game, so you’ve got a chance to see some of the Yankees’ best prospects in the lower levels of the minors. I haven’t seen the lineups, but I assume this year’s first rounder 3B Eric Jagielo is playing. Starter RHP Rookie Davis, SS Abi Avelino, OF Michael O’Neill (Paul’s nephew), 1B Bubba Jones, and OF Brandon Thomas are a few others to keep an eye on. You’ve also got the Braves and Cardinals on MLB Network (Maholm vs. Kelly) and preseason football on ESPN. Talk about whatever you like here, have at it.
The Yankees have done exactly what they needed to do these last two weeks as they try to climb back in the postseason race. They took two of three from two good teams in the Tigers and Red Sox while beating the crap out of a pair of non-contenders in the Angels and Blue Jays. They’ve shaved four games off their wildcard deficit and three games off their division deficit with their recent strong play, but they’re only halfway there. Lots more winning has to be done. Finishing off the sweep of Toronto this afternoon is the next step. Here’s the lineup that will face left-hander J.A. Happ:
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- DH Vernon Wells
- 2B Robinson Cano
- LF Alfonso Soriano
- 3B Alex Rodriguez
- CF Curtis Granderson
- 1B Mark Reynolds
- SS Eduardo Nunez
- C Chris Stewart
And on the mound is lefty Andy Pettitte, who is coming off a pretty good start against the Red Sox. He ran out of gas in the seventh inning but looked better than he had in a long time for the first 6+ innings. The Yankees need a repeat showing of that Pettitte today; he’s got to pitch better if they’re going to make a serious run at a playoff spot.
It has been pouring in New York all morning. Real heavy, nasty rain with lightning and loud thunder. Not exactly baseball weather. That is supposed to clear up early this afternoon however, so we’re probably going to have a game today. The Blue Jays do not come back to the Bronx at all this season, so expect them to wait it out as long as necessary. No one wants to forfeit an off-day to make a game up this late in the season. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05pm ET but I’m not sure that will happen. They might start in a delay. Whenever they do play, it’ll be on YES. Enjoy.
Update (12:58pm): The game will not start on time, the Yankees announced. No word on a tentative start time or anything. It’s still raining outside. Not hard, but raining enough.
Update (1:32pm): Dan Barbarisi hears it might be a while until the game begins, something like 3-5pm ET. Yikes.
Update (3:44pm): The tarp is coming off the field and the team says they are shooting for a 4:30pm ET start time.
Update (4:32pm): We have baseball. The two teams have taken the field.
Via Buster Olney: The Yankees are not discussing a possible waiver trade involving Justin Morneau with the Twins. Darren Wolfson hears New York is monitoring the slugger though, and they figure to do that right up until August 31st. Players have to be in the organization by that date to be eligible for the playoff roster, no exceptions.
Morneau, 32, cleared trade waivers earlier this month according to Mike Berardino, so he can be dealt to any team now. He’s owned approximately $3.5M for the rest of the year and will become a free agent for the first time this winter. The lefty-swinging Morneau is hitting .269/.322/.434 (107 wRC+) with 15 homers overall this season, but he’s been a monster in August: 158 wRC+ and seven homers.
The Yankees could use Morneau as a powerful part-time first baseman/part-time DH down the stretch, and fitting him onto the roster won’t be too big of an issue with September call-ups looming. They should probably focus on adding a starting pitcher (Dan Haren?) more than a bat right now, but every little upgrade matters at this point. Morneau would be useful in some capacity. · (19) ·
As expected, the Yankees have placed Jayson Nix on the 15-day DL with a fractured left hand. Joe Girardi acknowledged his season is likely over. The team took advantage of the injury to recall right-hander Preston Claiborne before the mandatory ten-day waiting period expired, but they now lack a backup middle infield at the moment. Joe Girardi hinted at using Alfonso Soriano at second base and Robinson Cano at short in an emergency. Mark Reynolds played short in college, so who knows? Derek Jeter is likely to return at some point in the next few days, so it sounds like the club is just going to roll the dice until then. Risky. · (35) ·
The Yankees need all the wins they can get at this point. On Tuesday, they managed to grab two against the Blue Jays. Around the fifth or six inning of the second game in the doubleheader, Michael Kay sparked a discussion about who the Yankees missed most this season. The players to choose from were Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, or Kevin Youkilis. Now upon hearing this question, the answer seemed fairly obvious to me – that is to say, Derek Jeter. Of course, that didn’t stop Michael Kay from picking a different (and rather unexpected) option, Mark Teixeira, and sparking a conversation between me and several others on Twitter. So here we are; let’s dissect.
Jeter has been the Captain of this team for quite some time, and for a reason. He’s been a historically great player, and even in his sunset years still remains a legitimate upgrade over the other options accessible to the Yankees at this time. To put this in perspective, last season, Derek batted .316/.362/.429 (.347 wOBA, 117 wRC+) over 159 games. As a bonus, he provided the team with 15 homeruns and a 3.1 fWAR season. The Captain is known for putting the ball in play and has a reputation for timely hitting (though that concept is a discussion for another day). The fielding metrics are generally unkind to Jeter, and depending on which metric you prefer, they can be downright ugly. That’s not a surprise though. I think everyone views Jeter as a “bat first” type of shortstop. For what it’s worth, ZiPS had Jeter producing a .703 OPS (.311 wOBA, 1.7 fWAR) over 120 games played this season. Obviously, it’s a moot point now.
In any event, compare Jeter’s numbers from last season (if you’re feeling optimistic) or the ZiPS projection for this season (if you’re feeling more bearish) to the alternatives, Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix. Both Nunez and Nix have their moments (Nix as recently as Tuesday), but one would be hard pressed to make the case that either player should be a full time starter, let alone a sufficient replacement to Derek Jeter. Neither player is even in shouting distance of Jeter if he replicates his 2012 numbers. Nunez has the slight edge over Nix (+12 in wRC+), but is still about 45 points lower than what Jeter was last year. Jeter would still have to fall approximately 25 points in wOBA, if his 2013 ZiPS projection ended up being accurate, to match Nunez’s current contributions. Even in Jeter’s 2010 campaign, which was a terrible year by his standards, Nunez still falls short by about 20 points of wRC+. Now to be fair, one stat is not the end all of player analysis (nor should it be), but I think some of these metrics offer a convenient snap shot of the offensive gap between a fill-in shortstop against what we, as fans, have been used to seeing on a daily basis for the last decade or so.
So if the currently-injured Nix and Nunez can’t hit like Jeter, perhaps they make up the difference in runs defensively. Well, that’s the theory anyway. Unfortunately for Nunez, defensive metrics tend to rate him basically as gruesomely as they do the Captain. Nix on the other hand, is a bit more positive in this regard. Are the runs prevented by Nix enough to offset the difference in runs created by Jeter though? Not really.
If you don’t want to vote for Jeter, I see the logic in voting for Kevin Youkilis, at least from a more macro level. We’re all aware of how dismal the Yankees third baseman have been this season (and for a brief period, Youkilis contributed to those shortcomings). Despite A-Rod’s contributions over the past couple weeks, the team still ranks in the bottom six of all Major League Baseball (-0.5 fWAR collectively) in terms of production from this position. The group of fill-ins for A-Rod have shown very little patience at the plate (6.1 BB%) and have struck out often (24.9 K%). The Yankee third basemen have produced 8 (!) home runs all year. We’re talking .259 wOBA, 56 wRC+ bad.
Hypothetically, if we pretend Youkilis wasn’t injured all year (which in itself involves a stretch of the imagination) and performed similarly to last year (which I’m also dubious about given how fried he looked when he was playing early on this season), that would still represent a definitive upgrade over what the team has had. Over 509 plate appearances in 2012, Youk smashed 19 long balls, walked 10% of the time and struck out 21.2% of the time. More importantly though, his offensive contributions were basically league average overall (103 wRC+) despite his noticeable splits. League average isn’t necessarily a desirable or complimentary trait, but it sure as hell wins out over the abysmal production the Yankees have experienced — especially considering it was a last minute desperation move in the offseason.
This same logic applies to Alex Rodriguez as well, now that he has returned. Drama aside, he’s basically an average third baseman at this point (though he does account for 25% of the team’s home runs this season among third basemen after only 12 games played). No one expected a return of Alex’s MVP days, but even a replacement level third baseman marks a huge upgrade in terms of production over the course of a season compared to what the team has had. If the Yankees had had Jeter or A-Rod all year, the offensive boost would be fairly substantial considering they were going from basically nothing at all to something that is closer to resembling acceptable big league production. We’ve witnessed over the past few days how the lineup has basically felt completely different; it’s transformed into something much more formidable. It’s much deeper now than it has been all season and the results speak for themselves — a two run deficit is no longer instant loss.
Let me preface the rest of this post by saying that I do believe Tex is a superior player to both Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds — both offensively and defensively — despite the fact that his stats have been on the decline for the past few seasons. That said, Overbay has been an adequate fill-in this season, generally speaking. Over 409 plate appearances, Overbay has hit 13 home runs and batted .254/.304/.421 (.317 wOBA, 96 wRC+ — good for a 0.5 fWAR). He’s had some timely hits and appears competent with the glove. With Reynolds complementing the first base platoon now, the offensive production from this spot in the lineup is that much more complete.
The 2012 season was probably Tex’s worst year professionally since his debut year with the Rangers, and most certainly was his worst season with the Yankees since he joined the team in 2009. Even still, he managed to hit 24 dingers, walked 10.3% of the time (patience that would be highly desirable in this year’s lineup) and produced a .345 wOBA (116 wRC+). Additionally, his glove is somewhere in the average to very good range depending on which metrics you trust. He’s better than what the Yankees have deployed these past several months undoubtedly. But the gap in total production just isn’t as severe. Going forward, perhaps it could become as severe as the gap between the shortstop and third base replacements compared with the respective starters if Overbay and Reynolds both slide in performance, but right now that seems to be the least of the priorities. Perhaps one underrated point for Teixeira is that he (sort of) theoretically eliminates the need for another platoon combination on the roster which enables other possibilities.
In any event, I think rather than asking, “Which player does the team miss the most?,” perhaps the question should be, “Which supstitute replacement player(s) marks the biggest drop off?” What do you think?
Which player have the Yankees missed the most this season?
Which player have the Yankees missed the most this season?
This was a game that, earlier in the season, the Yankees probably find a way to lose. It’s the kind of game that is won with one swing of the bat, know what I mean? A dramatic late-inning homer and a patchwork pitching staff helped the Yankees to a 4-2 win over the Blue Jays on Wednesday night, their fourth straight win and ninth in their last 11 games.
David Justice Would Be Proud
R.A. Dickey was really, really good in this game. The Yankees got to him for two runs early on, but the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner went on to retire 14 of 15 batters faced at one point from the third through eighth innings. The only base-runner was a walk and just one of those 15 batters actually hit the ball out of the infield. Dickey shut them right down with his unusually hard knuckleball. He was awesome …
… until hanging a 1-0 knuckler to Alfonso Soriano with a man on-base and two outs in the eighth. Soriano clobbered the pitch out to right for a no-doubt, go-ahead two-run homer that simultaneously snapped an 0-for-17 skid. As you might remember from his first stint in pinstripes, Fonsy has a knack for being an all-or-nothing hitter. He was all and not nothing on Wednesday night, helping the team to another win with another monster homerun. This guy, man. Tell me this isn’t Justice-esque. You can’t do it. It’s uncanny.
Tuesday’s doubleheader meant the Yankees had to use a spot starter at some point before Sunday, so they decided to get it out of the way early and give their older starters an extra day of rest in the process. Adam Warren got the nod after a solid 4+ months of long relief work, and he gave the team three innings and 61 pitches of two-run ball. He allowed four hits — including a monster solo homer by the utterly powerless (career .070 ISO) Josh Thole — and two walks while striking out four. If nothing else, it was much better than his first (and only other) career start last summer.
Once Warren was done, hero of the game David Huff got the ball and managed to throw five scoreless innings of one-hit ball. The one hit was an infield single on a Baltimore chopper. He did walk more batters (four, one intentionally) than he struck out (two), but who cares at this point? The Yankees just need outs. Strikeouts, ground outs, loud outs, lucky outs … just outs and Huff was getting them. With a short bullpen due to the doubleheader, he gets a well-deserved win for his 70 pitches of work. What was I rambling about following the doubleheader? Unexpected contributions, baby. I hope they vote Huff a full playoff share.
Congrats to Ichiro Suzuki for picking up his 4,000th professional hit with a solid line drive single to left in the first inning. His teammates all came out of the dugout to congratulate him afterwards. Pretty cool moment. Ichiro joins Pete Rose (4,256) and Ty Cobb (4,189) as the only other players in the professional 4,000 hits club. Obviously 1,278 hits in Japan do not equal 1,278 hits in MLB, but it’s still a great accomplishment. Just a ridiculous number of hits. Congrats, Ichiro.
Despite pitching in both ends of the doubleheader, Mariano Rivera did indeed come on for the save following Huff’s five innings and Soriano’s two-run homer. He allowed a double to Rajai Davis with one out only to immediately pick him off second base. Davis, who you know by now is as aggressive as anyone on the bases, was taking too big of a lead — especially in a two-run game with Edwin Encarnacion at the plate, geez — and Robinson Cano snuck in behind him to apply the tag. Mo threw just 11 pitches and earned two saves and a win in the span 30 hours or so.
Austin Romine was robbed of an extra-base hit by Kevin Pillar in the second, though he did get a sacrifice fly for his trouble. It wouldn’t have been a homer, but Pillar jumped to catch the ball near the very top of the left field ball. Romine went 0-for-2 with a strikeout in addition to allowing two stolen bases and making a throwing error. Curtis Granderson singled in the other run and drew a walk while Cano stayed hot with a single and a double. He was on second for Soriano’s homer. Eduardo Nunez singled and had the only other hit of the night.
After the game, Huff pointed out that he faced a whole bunch of the Toronto hitters in Triple-A this year, so he had a comfort level and knew out to approach them. He last faced their Triple-A squad in the start immediately before being called up last week, and three of the nine hitters in the Buffalo lineup that night played for the Blue Jays in this game. One of those weird things no one ever thinks about — having a history with a player dating back to the minors.
I don’t know what it is, the Blue Jays are allergic to playing the Yankees at full strength. It took just a few innings for Jose Bautista to hurt his hip and land on the DL in the first game of the doubleheader, and in this game Jose Reyes got ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the second. Home plate ump Ted Barrett have him plenty of rope, long enough for Reyes to spike his helmet into the ground. That led to the ejection and ultimately helped the Yankees. Thanks, Jose.
And lastly, Jayson Nix‘s season likely to came to an end when Dickey hit him with the knuckleball in the second inning. He went for x-rays and the Yankees confirmed he suffered a fractured left hand. Mark Reynolds replaced Nix at third base, and it’ll be interesting to see how they fill the roster spot going forward.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. For the other stats and standings, go to FanGraphs and ESPN, respectively. The Yankees are now four (!) games back of the Athletics in the loss column for the second wildcard spot. They shaved three games off their deficit in the last week or so. New York is five back of the Red Sox in the AL East and with this win, their season run differential is back to an even zero. Cool Standings gives them a 12.9% chance of playing in October.
The Yankees will go for the ultra-rare four games in three days sweep on Thursday afternoon, when Andy Pettitte gets the ball against fellow left-hander J.A. Happ. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the homestand-ending matinee.
IF Brendan Harris has been released from Triple-A Scranton, reports Donnie Collins. He’s already hooked on with the Rangers. Now that players are starting to get healthy, the Yankees don’t need as many filler types in the minors.
Triple-A Scranton (6-3 loss to Pawtucket)
- 2B David Adams: 0-4, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 E (throwing) — stuck in a 3-for-31 (.097) slump since being sent back down
- CF Melky Mesa: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB
- LF Ronnie Mustelier: 3-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K — 12-for-19 (.632) during his five-game multi-hit streak
- C J.R. Murphy: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 K
- RHP Brett Marshall: 5 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 2/5 GB/FB — 54 of 91 pitches were strikes (59%) … third time in his last four starts he allowed at least five runs
- RHP David Herndon: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 22 of 35 pitches were strikes (63%)