I swear, it feels like just yesterday I was sitting in the loge boxes watching Phil Hughes make his Major League debut against (A.J. Burnett and) the Blue Jays. Other than Phil’s start, the one thing I remember most about that night was Matt Stairs taking batting practice. Most guys will try to work on things during BP, like hitting to all fields or whatever, but Stairs just loaded up and tried to yank the ball down the line and into the upper deck. It was pretty awesome, but I digress.
Hughes rode the career roller coaster with the Yankees. He was a first round pick, a super-hyped prospect, a budding ace, injured, an elite setup man, a World Series champion, an All-Star starter, injured again, an okay starter, injured yet again, and a replacement level starter. There were definitely some awesome moments and some not so awesome moments as well. The near no-hitter/blown hamstring game feels like a microcosm of his career, so much excitement and potential but ultimately disappointment. Hughes wasn’t a bust for the Yankees (Andrew Brackman, now that’s a bust) but he sure was disappointing.
Phil returns to Yankee Stadium this afternoon as a member of the Twins. The big ballpark in the Bronx was no doubt a terrible fit for his fly ball style, and while moving into spacious Target Field accounts for some of his success this year (3.23 ERA and 2.61 FIP), Hughes has also adopted an ultra-aggressive approach, perhaps at the urging of the pitch-to-contact-loving Twins staff. He has not walked a batter in his last 44.2 innings, a span of 175 batters faced. He has not walked a hitter in each of his last six starts, the longest such streak in baseball since Stephen Strasburg did it in six straight in 2011. He deserves a lot of credit for that.
I so badly wanted Hughes to succeed as a starter with the Yankees, but it didn’t happen. Now I hope they crush him today like I hope they crush every pitcher every day. The page has turned and he’s wearing the wrong uniform. That’s baseball. Here is the Twins lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- C Brian McCann
- 3B Yangervis Solarte
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 2B Brian Roberts
- 1B Kelly Johnson
- DH Zoilo Almonte
RHP Chase Whitley
It is gorgeous in New York today. Blue skies, barely any clouds, and no rain in the forecast. Perfect day to win a series. This afternoon’s game is scheduled to begin a little after 1pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
Michael Pineda Update: Pineda (shoulder) will be shut down for at least ten days before he resumes throwing. Based on that, it seems like the absolutely earliest he will return is the first week of July, right before the All-Star break.
Via Jon Heyman: Hal Steinbrenner and several other members of the Yankees’ hierarchy have interest in signing Kendrys Morales. I assume that interest only increased when Mark Teixeira left yesterday’s game with more wrist soreness and received a cortisone shot. Hal has already indicated a willingness to add payroll to improve the team at midseason.
Morales, 30, hit .277/.336/.449 (116 wRC+) with 23 homers for the Mariners last year, and his switch-hitting bat would look marvelous in the middle of the lineup. That said, he would further limit the team’s roster flexibility. By a lot. Morales is more of a DH than a first baseman at this point — he has played only 59 games at first (214 at DH) since destroying his ankle in 2010 — and with Carlos Beltran on the mend, the DH spot doesn’t figure to be open much. Beltran will reportedly return as the full-time DH because they don’t want to risk re-aggravating the bone spur in his elbow by making him throw.
Morales will no longer require forfeiting a draft pick this coming Friday, so there’s no reason not to wait these last six days before signing him. He would help the Yankees, there’s no doubt about it, but unless Beltran winds up undergoing surgery or Teixeira misses an extended amount of time and the team doesn’t care about further weakening the infield defense, it’s tough to see Morales as anything but a square peg in a round roster hole. · (47) ·
Despite some less than inspiring play, the Yankees have now won five of their last seven games. They took the second game of the weekend series against the Twins on Saturday afternoon, rallying late behind their ace for a 3-1 win. Let’s recap:
- Tanaka Time: Had it not been for some more bad infield defense, Masahiro Tanaka might have thrown eight scoreless innings or even a shutout on Saturday afternoon. Kelly Johnson booted a hard-hit ground ball to lead off the game, and the runner eventually came around to score on Josh Willingham’s two-out single to right. After that, Tanaka retired 22 of 26 batters faced, including eight on strikeouts. He allowed just the one unearned run on four singles and two walks, fanning nine and getting ten ground ball outs. Tanaka was brilliant against the Twins, just as he has for most of the season. A man among boys.
- Blown Chances: Kevin Correia came into the game with the very worst ERA in baseball (6.34), yet the Yankees let him off the hook in the first two innings. Mark Teixeira struck out and Brian McCann grounded into a double play after they loaded the bases with no outs in the first, then Brendan Ryan grounded into an inning-ending double play with two on in the second. Yangervis Solarte was also thrown out at second after foolishly trying to advance on a throw to the plate on his single in the sixth, just like Derek Jeter on Friday. Correia allowed just one run (Solarte’s solo homer) in six innings. Gross.
- Late Rally: Jacoby Ellsbury set the table for the game-winning rally in the eighth with his legs, his greatest weapon. He singled with one out in the inning, stole second, then moved to third when the throw went into center field. Brian Roberts drew a walk to put runners on the corners, and rather than hit into another inning-ending double play, McCann doubled into the right field corner to drive in a run. Johnson atoned for his error with a run-scoring single later in the inning, after a 30 or so minute rain delay. Those were some mighty big hits.
- Leftovers: David Robertson pitched around a(nother) error in the ninth by striking out the side. I love it when he does that … McCann doubled twice and is quietly hitting .268/.355/.448 in his last 20 games, dating back to the start of the Brewers series. That’s a pretty great approximation of what he can do over a full season … Solarte went 3-for-4 with the homer and has officially broken out of his slump … Brett Gardner and Johnson both singled twice, Jeter singled and doubled, and Ellsbury singled and walked … Alfonso Soriano went 0-for-3 with a rare walk … the Yankees had 4+ extra-base hits for only the second time in their last 15 games.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has some other stats, and ESPN has the updated standings. These two teams will wrap up this series with the rubber game on Sunday afternoon, when Phil Hughes makes his first career start against the Yankees. Chase Whitley will be on the bump for New York. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to see Hughes’ return live.
Triple-A Scranton (7-3 win over Indianapolis)
- DH Corban Joseph: 0-5
- 3B Scott Sizemore: 1-5, 1 K
- SS Zelous Wheeler: 2-4, 1 R
- C Austin Romine: 3-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI – every once in a while he’ll do this to remind you he’s still only 25 and was pretty well regarded
- RHP Shane Greene: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 13/1 GB/FB — 62 of 99 pitches were strikes (63%) … there we go, that’s the Shane Greene we saw last season
- RHP Danny Burawa: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 3/1 GB/FB — 25 of 41 pitches were strikes (61%)
Here is your open thread for this lovely Saturday evening. I didn’t think it would end up being so nice after all that rain this afternoon. The Rays and Red Sox will be on FOX, plus MLB Network will air a different game later tonight. There also an NBA postseason game on as well. Talk about any of those games, this afternoon’s win over the Twins, or anything else right here.
Michael Pineda has been shut down for after suffering a setback, Joe Girardi confirmed. An MRI showed inflammation in his back/shoulder, the same spot as his original injury. The good news is that there was no structural damage. Pineda was not expected back until the middle of next month, and now it seems like the Yankees will be lucky if he returns before the All-Star break. · (49) ·
5:00pm: Joe Girardi said Teixeira will not play tomorrow or Monday, and will then be re-evaluated on Tuesday. He received a cortisone shot today.
3:24pm: Teixeira left the game with right wrist soreness, the Yankees announced. Don’t like where this is going.
3:05pm: Mark Teixeira was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning of this afternoon’s game for an unknown reason, though chances are it has something to do with his surgically repaired wrist. Brian Roberts was on deck to pinch-hit for him when the fifth inning ended, which is weird. Means Teixeira was coming out of the game then stayed in to play defense for another half-inning. He sat three games last week because of inflammation in the wrist, and a visit to the doctor on Thursday confirmed the diagnosis. Stay tuned for updates. · (35) ·
The 2014 amateur draft begins in only six days. Here are some stray links to help pass the time:
- Latest Mock Drafts: Here are the most recent mock drafts from Keith Law (subs. req’d), Baseball America, and MLB.com. All three have the Astros taking San Diego HS LHP Brady Aiken first overall. Also, all three mock drafts are the first round only, so the Yankees are not included. Bummer.
- Latest Rankings: MLB.com just released their top 200 draft prospects list while Baseball America stretched their rankings out to 500 names. That’s roughly 15 rounds worth of players. The MLB.com list is great because it includes scouting reports, video, and 20-80 scouting scale grades for each player, all for free.
- As a reminder, the Yankees don’t pick until the second round (55th overall) because of their offseason spending spree. Their spending pool for the top ten rounds is $3,202,300, including $1,018,700 for that second round pick. None of their other picks are slotted for seven figures.
Thank goodness, Masahiro Tanaka is pitching today. Maybe the Yankees should forfeit the DH and let him bat too. Then again, Kevin Correia is starting for the Twins and he has a 6.34 ERA this season, which is the very worst among qualified starters in baseball. This is one of those no excuse games. If the Yankees can’t win this afternoon, something will have gone horribly wrong. Here is the Twins lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- DH Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- RF Alfonso Soriano
- 2B Yangervis Solarte
- 3B Kelly Johnson
- SS Brendan Ryan
RHP Masahiro Tanaka
It’s cool with some clouds in New York, and there is a tiny little bit of rain in the forecast. Less than we got last night, so they shouldn’t have any problems getting this afternoon’s game in. First pitch is scheduled for a little after 1pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.
Looking for some Saturday morning reading? David Waldstein wrote a great feature on Danilo Valiente, the Yankees’ batting practice coach. That’s all he does, throw batting practice and soft toss and stuff like that. He joined the staff this season after working down in the minors for several years. The article isn’t about his job though, it focuses on Valiente’s incredible backstory as a guy who used baseball as a way to cope with the death of his wife, which eventually led to a big league coaching job. It’s a fantastic read and gets RAB’s highest level of recommendation. Check it out. · (2) ·