Game 91: A win is a loss and a loss is a win

(Adam Hunger/Getty)
(Adam Hunger/Getty)

Does anyone out there still believe the Yankees are good enough to get back into the postseason race? I’m not even talking about being good enough to actually get to the playoffs. I mean being good enough to play meaningful games in September. Everyone is saying the Yankees need to play better in the second half, and yet here they are, playing poorly and on the verge of being swept by the Red Sox at home. At this point of the season, a loss is a win and a win is a loss. Sell sell sell. Here is the Red Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. DH Alex Rodriguez
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 2B Starlin Castro
  8. 1B Rob Refsnyder
  9. C Austin Romine
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

Another hot and sunny one in New York today. The weather would be really great if it were, like, ten degrees cooler and 50% less humid. Tonight’s game starts at 8pm ET and you can watch on ESPN. Try to enjoy.

Injury Update: Mark Teixeira (foot) is heading for a CT scan even though an x-ray came back negative yesterday. He fouled a pitch off his foot yesterday. (Update: The CT scan came back negative and Teixeira is day-to-day.)

Report: Yanks, Pirates have discussed Nathan Eovaldi deal

(Tasos Katopodis/Getty)
(Tasos Katopodis/Getty)

According to Rob Biertempfel, the Yankees and Pirates have discussed a potential Nathan Eovaldi trade. It’s unclear how serious talks were or whether they’re still ongoing. Biertempfel says the Rangers have some interest in Eovaldi as well. Both Pittsburgh and Texas are contending and in need of rotation help.

Eovaldi, 26, started the season well but has crashed hard late, so hard that he was demoted to the bullpen before the All-Star break. (He’s going to return to the rotation Tuesday.) He has a 5.11 ERA (5.04 FIP) in 98.2 innings spread across 16 starts and three relief appearances. Eovaldi is under team control as an arbitration-eligible player for one more season before becoming a free agent. I have some thoughts on this.

1. This rumor passes the sniff test. Some trade rumors flat out don’t make sense. This is not one of them. This one makes sense. The Pirates and pitching coach Ray Searage have had success turning good stuff/bad command starters like Eovaldi into above-average pitchers the last few years. Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett are the most notable examples. They did it with Edinson Volquez too. (It didn’t work with Juan Nicasio this year.)

Also, the Yankees and Pirates are frequent trade partners. Brian Cashman and Pirates GM Neal Huntington have hooked up for four trades since 2012 (Burnett, Casey McGehee, Chris Stewart, Frankie Cervelli) and if nothing else, that indicates the two have a good working relationship. Between their recent trade history and the type of pitchers Pittsburgh tends to acquire, this rumor definitely has teeth. I’m buying this.

2. So what can the Yankees get in return? Even though he’s been traded twice himself, not many pitchers like Eovaldi have been traded within the last few years. I’m talking about an enigmatic 20-something a year and a half away from free agency. Eovaldi’s two prior trades don’t work as benchmarks because he had more years of team control. We’re stuck guessing at his trade value, which is unfortunate.

The Pirates have a loaded system — they landed six players on Baseball America’s midseason top 100 — and it should be noted it’s been a while since Huntington last traded anything more than a decent prospect. This isn’t a club that will go out and trade a big prospect package for a big name MLB player. Not that Eovaldi is a big name, but you know what I mean. If you’re hoping for a top prospect, forget it. Huntington’s track record says it ain’t happening.

Here is MLB.com’s top 30 Pirates prospects list. Down-list players who seem interesting include lefty Stephen Tarpley, infielder Kevin Kramer, righty Trevor Williams, and infielder Max Moroff. That’s just me pulling names off the list. The Pirates do have a lot of talent in their system though, so even if the top tier and second tier guys are off the table, there are still some nice prospects to be had.

(Joe Sargent/Getty)
(Joe Sargent/Getty)

3. The Niese factor scares me. One of the reasons the Pirates need rotation help now and next year is lefty Jon Niese, who came over from the Mets in the offseason and has had a brutal season (5.13 ERA and 5.49 FIP). Like Eovaldi, Niese was recently demoted to the bullpen and he’s said to be on the trade block. It’s easy to understand why, really.

The Yankees have reportedly had interest in Niese in the past, but things were never going to come together because of the Mets-Yankees factor. Would it happen now that he’s with the Pirates? Niese and a prospect for Eovaldi? Niese’s contract includes club options for 2017 ($10M) and 2018 ($11M), so he’d satisfy their stated goal of adding pitching controllable beyond next season.

Just to be clear, there’s nothing connected the Yankees to Niese now. This is just my speculation. They’ve had interest in Niese, he’s very much available, and he’s under control beyond 2017. This is a little too close for comfort. I guess as long as Niese is the second piece, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I’d rather see the Yankees focus on younger players, not veterans.

4. So, what about the Rangers? Biertempfel says the Rangers have interest in Eovaldi as well, and again, that passes the sniff test. They just welcomed Yu Darvish back from the DL, but are still without Derek Holland (shoulder) and Colby Lewis (lat), so they need rotation help. Texas also needs bullpen help in a big way, and the Yankees have some really good relievers to offer. I guess that means there’s potential for a larger deal here. Eovaldi and, say, Aroldis Chapman for something. That sorta thing.

Yankees drop second straight to Red Sox, lose 5-2


Source: FanGraphs

This was another one of those games where the Yankees were the inferior team on offense, on defense, and on the mound. What is this team good at, exactly? Besides protecting those occasional leads after six innings? I’m pretty sure the answer is nothing. Saturday’s loss to the Red Sox came with a 5-2 final. Let’s recap with bullet points since it’s Saturday night:

  • Sabathia Hit Hard Again: For the fifth straight start, CC Sabathia allowed 5+ runs Saturday. The Red Sox tagged him for five runs (four earned) in 5.1 to give him a 3.94 ERA on the season. Remember when he had a 2.20 ERA? Good times. Yes, Sabathia gave up an inordinate number of weak ground ball singles, but he also gave up a three-run moonshot to Sandy friggin’ Leon, and had more than one line drive hit right at an infielder. Sabathia’s renaissance earlier this season was awesome. It seems over now.
  • Two Token Runs: Solo homers by Brett Gardner and Chase Headley. That was the offense. The Yankees could only muster four hits and a walk against Eduardo Rodriguez, who came into the start with an 8.59 ERA. He threw 97 pitches and got four swings and misses total. A decent offense would have hammered him. The Yankees didn’t put up much of a fight.
  • Leftovers: Gardner went 2-for-3 with the homer and a walk. The rest of the Yankees went 3-for-28 with a homer and a walk … Anthony Swarzak threw 2.2 hitless innings. No, really … the Yankees sent 33 batters to the plate. Eleven saw no more than two pitches. Remember when the Yankees worked the count? … the Yankees were charged with two errors (Headley, Didi Gregorius) and it could have been more. Not the best afternoon in the field.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Here’s our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too. The Yankees will look to avoid being swept by the Red Sox for the second time this season Sunday night, in the ESPN game. Those are the worst. Masahiro Tanaka and David Price are the scheduled starters.

Minor League Update: No DotF tonight. Sorry folks. I’ve had a busy weekend and I’m beat. DotF will be back to normal tomorrow. Here are the box scores and here’s the short version: Ben Gamel had two hits (again), Luis Cessa allowed two runs in six innings, Chance Adams struck out eight and allowed one hit in six innings, Luis Torrens had two hits, and Dermis Garcia mashed a tater. Oh, and the GCL Yanks West lost 10-0 and were no-hit. Their only baserunners were two hit batsmen. That feels like something that would happen to the big league team this year.

Game 90: Sabathia Saturday

CC was involved in some Nickelodeon kids show during the All-Star break. (Kevin Winter/Getty)
CC was involved in some Nickelodeon event during the All-Star break. (Kevin Winter/Getty)

To sell or not to sell? That is the question the Yankees are facing with two weeks and two days left until the trade deadline. I’m not sure what’s taking so long to make this decision, but it is what it is. This is the second of 13 games against contending teams to open to second half, so chances are this stretch of games will determine the team’s course of action at the deadline. I guess we’ll see. Here’s the Red Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. DH Alex Rodriguez
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 1B Mark Teixeira
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 2B Starlin Castro
  9. 3B Chase Headley
    LHP CC Sabathia

Gee willikers is it hot outside. Hot and humid. The kind of day where you stick to the stadium seats. There’s a little bit of rain in the forecast throughout the afternoon and evening, though hopefully not anything that will interrupt the game. This afternoon’s game will begin at 4:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and FOX Sports 1 nationally. Enjoy.

Rotation Update: Ivan Nova will start Monday and Nathan Eovaldi, who threw 21 pitches in relief last night, will start Tuesday, Joe Girardi announced yesterday. Seems like Chad Green will have to wait for his next big league start.

Injury Update: Chris Parmelee (hamstring) ran the bases pretty hard today and seems close to a return. Of course, the Yankees have no place to put him, so chances are he’s coming back only to get designated for assignment.

Sanchez: Astros sign Yulieski Gurriel to five-year, $47.5M deal

(El Nuevo Herald)
(El Nuevo Herald)

According to Jesse Sanchez, the Astros agreed to sign Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel to a five-year contract worth $47.5M yesterday. The deal is expected to become official later today. Houston’s infield is full, plus they have infielder and top prospect Alex Bregman knocking on the door, so this is a case of add talent and sort it all out later.

The Yankees were among the teams to bring Gurriel in for a private workout. International scouting director Donny Rowland is said to be a longtime fan of the former Cuban league star. It’s unclear if the Yankees were outbid or simply didn’t even make an offer. I have some thoughts on all of this.

1. He got less money than I thought. Five years and $9.5M a year strikes me as a pretty good deal for the Astros given other recent contracts for Cuban players. Rusney Castillo, Hector Olivera, and Yasmany Tomas all received $10M to $12M annually across six years. They all kinda stink though, plus Gurriel is a few years older, so I guess his contract is something of a market correction.

2. I get not going after a 32-year-old. Well, like I said, we don’t know what the Yankees offered, but I think you catch my drift here. Gurriel is not young. He’s 32 and he’s at the age where you’d expect his skills to decline anyway, so Gurriel is not someone you bring in if you’re rebuilding. He’s a win-now addition, and the Yankees are not a win-now team. Would he make them better in the short-term? Almost certainly yes. But the Yankees have focused on the short-term for too long. They have to take a step back and thing long-term now.

3. Where is the offense coming from the next few years? The Yankees are averaging only 4.20 runs per game this season, so they’re one of the lowest scoring offenses in the league. Next year they figure to lose Carlos Beltran (and Mark Teixeira) to free agency, and others like Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Brian McCann will be a year older. Unless Greg Bird doesn’t miss a bit following shoulder surgery and youngsters like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez hit the ground running, the offense might be worse in 2017. Even the very best prospects can need an adjustment period, after all. Gurriel would have given the Yankees a much-needed bat going forward.

4. Don’t forget, Lourdes is the real prize. Yulieski and his brother Lourdes Jr. defected over the winter, and given his age (22) and skill set, Lourdes is the more promising player. He’s not Yoan Moncada, but his best years are ahead of him. With Yulieski you’re just hoping to get one or two peak years right away and a manageable decline. Lourdes is the better long-term buy. He’s not going to sign until his birthday in October — once he turns 23, he’ll no longer be subject to the international spending restrictions — and the Yankees should be all over him, though their recent track record with big name Cuban players suggests they’ll fall short.

Yanks start second half with a whimper, fall 5-3 to BoSox


Source: FanGraphs

Good to see not a whole lot changed over the All-Star break. The Yankees were the second best team on the field in their second half opening 5-3 loss to the Red Sox, which dropped their postseason odds to a mere 5.0% as of this writing. Not-so-fun fact: at 44-45, the Yankees are under .500 in the second half for the first time since 1995.

I didn’t see one pitch of tonight’s game and I checked the score on my phone only three times: 1-0, 3-0, 5-0. Those are the scores I saw. I didn’t bother to check again after seeing 5-0. The box score tells me Michael Pineda gave up five runs in five innings, including three homers, so it seems he’s back to his early season antics. That’s a big development for #TeamSell.

The Yankees mustered four hits, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch in nine innings against Steven Wright and various relievers. Eleven of the final dozen batters they sent to the plate made outs, so there was no late rally in this one. The Yankees went out quietly. The Red Sox offense averaged 4.28 pitches per plate appearance. The Yankees averaged 3.39. Yup.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and Red Sox resume this series Saturday afternoon. That’s a 4pm ET start. Lefties CC Sabathia and Eduardo Rodriguez will be on the mound.

Minor League Update: I have neither the time nor the energy for a full DotF tonight. Here are the box scores and here’s the short version: Ben Gamel had two hits, Luis Severino allowed three runs in 6.2 innings, Dustin Fowler had three hits, Vicente Campos tossed six scoreless, Domingo Acevedo struck out nine in six innings, Hoy Jun Park had three hits, Mandy Alvarez extended his hitting streak to 20 games, and Blake Rutherford had two doubles and a triple in Pulaski’s doubleheader.

Game 89: The Start of the Second Half

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

Is it crazy to call these 17 days before the trade deadline the most important 17 days for the Yankees since at least the 2008-09 offseason? I don’t think so. With ownership reportedly on the fence about buying or selling, these 17 days may determine while the Yankees sell buy for the future or do something silly like stand pat. I’m not sure what else the decision makers need to see, but whatever.

The second half gets started this evening with the first of three against the Red Sox. Believe it or not, this is the Yankees’ first home game of July. They started the month with a ten-game road trip before the All-Star break. The last home game was the walk-off wild pitch against the Rangers. Yeah, it’s been a while. Michael Pineda started the team’s last home game and he’ll start this one tonight too. Hopefully Big Mike shows up and not Mini-Mike.

I’m not going to have time to add the lineups to the game thread, so I’ll instead direct you to Chad Jennings’ site. I trust he’ll have ’em. The weather in New York today is so much nicer than it was yesterday. It’s hot, don’t get me wrong, but at least it’s not grossly humid again. Tonight’s second half opener will begin at 7:05pm ET. You can watch on WPIX locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.