Via George King: Michael Pineda will take the next step in his rehab from a back/shoulder injury this weekend when he faces hitters in live batting practice. “I believe he will throw to hitters Saturday, live [batting practice], simulated type of things and we will go from there,’’ said Joe Girardi. “He is progressing like we want, things are going according to plan.’’
Pineda, 25, started a throwing program about two weeks ago and has thrown at least three bullpen sessions already. He has left the team and is rehabbing in Tampa. Based on how these things usually go, Pineda will throw live batting practice/simulated games a few times before making two or three (maybe four) minor league rehab starts. That puts his return sometime in the middle of next month, assuming no setbacks. So far so good though, and that’s most important. · (1) ·
According to a Naver report (translated article) passed along by Sung-Min Kim and Dan at MyKBO, the Yankees are close to signing 17-year-old Korean shortstop Hyo-Jun Park to a deal worth $1.1M. The bonus will count against the team’s international spending cap, so the deal might not become official until the new signing period opens on July 2nd, when the Yankees are expected to go bonkers.
Park spent some time working out in California earlier this year. He is a slick fielder and a left-handed hitter who is said to be a contact-oriented line drive guy without much power. That said, here’s a video of him hitting a grand slam. Here’s another video of him fielding, hitting, and running. It appears the signing will help address the team’s lack of a quality bat flip tool in the minors. Including Park, the Yankees reportedly have their eyes on at least eight international players for seven-figure bonuses this summer. · (19) ·
Got seven questions for you this week. Send us anything at anytime through the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar.
Jerry asks: Just read a quote where Joe Girardi said there is no guarantee CC Sabathia ever comes back, obviously this is an extreme response, but it got me wondering, how does a retirement due to medical issues work as far as the contract is concerned? Does he not retire and continue to collect his check? Negotiate a medical buyout then retire? Are these contracts insured?
Here’s the full quote for those who missed it (via Brendan Kuty): “I think there’s always that possibility a player may not make it back, but I feel pretty good about he’s had done so far and the steps that were taken, and you just kind of keep your fingers crossed.”
Anyway, players forfeit the remainder of their contracts if they retire. If Sabathia’s knee is bad enough that he can never pitch again, he’ll simply sit on the 60-day DL for the next few years and the Yankee will collect whatever insurance they’re entitled to based on their policy. I suppose a buyout is possible, but I can’t remember there ever being one in MLB.
I remember reading that many times teams won’t insure these super-large contracts because the premiums are often higher than the contract itself. The Yankees do have insurance on Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez though — that’s based on what we heard after Teixeira’s wrist and A-Rod‘s hip problems — so I’m guessing they have one on Sabathia too. The only player I can recall who retired and walked away from his contract due to injury is Gil Meche, who forfeited roughly $12M a few years ago. I would be stunned if Sabathia did that. It would be stupid. The Yankees knew the risks when they agreed to pay him all that money. He shouldn’t let them off the hook out of the kindness of his heart.
Mark asks: Is it fair to say that Peter O’Brien is now the team’s second or third best prospect behind Gary Sanchez? Does O’Brien’s meteoric rise on this list along with his versatility make him more valuable to the Yanks over the long-term and make it more likely they’ll trade Sanchez for some pitching help this summer?
I’m going to post my pre-draft top 30 prospects next Friday and right now I’m on the fence about whether O’Brien is even a top ten prospect in the organization. He’s a one-tool guy — granted, that one tool is power, and if you’re going to be a one-tool guy, power is the one to have — without a clearly defined position and some concerns about holes in his swing. If he does make the top ten, he’ll be in the back half for sure. O’Brien’s having a monster season, no doubt about it, but 40 strikeouts and three unintentional walks (!) is a red flag. How usable will that power be at the next level?
I don’t think O’Brien’s big year makes it any more or less likely the Yankees will trade Sanchez. Or John Ryan Murphy for that matter. If anything, it might make it more likely they trade O’Brien. They obviously don’t think he can catch — they wouldn’t have tried him at third base last year and in right field this year if they thought he could hack it behind the plate — but some other team might be willing to give him a shot as a catcher. The Yankees will probably trade a catcher for a pitcher this summer because they have a ton of catching depth, not because someone broke out and made someone else expendable.
J.R. asks: I know its early but can we get a scouting report on Kenta Maeda? Pitches, etc?
Maeda is the best pitcher in Japan now that Masahiro Tanaka is wearing pinstripes. There was some speculation he would be posted last offseason, but the Hiroshima Carp decided to keep him around for another year. Maeda is expected to be posted this coming offseason but he is not on par with Tanaka or Yu Darvish. It’ll be a little while before someone of that caliber comes along. Here’s a snippet of a Baseball America (subs. req’d) scouting report from last year:
Maeda doesn’t have a plus pitch, but he’s shown plus command at his best with the ability to throw all of his pitches for strikes, pitch to both sides of the plate and change hitters’ eye levels … Maeda’s size (6 feet, 161 pounds) doesn’t give him great fastball plane, but his fastball plays up because it has good sink and run and he commands it well. He throws a solid-average slider with short break, a low-70s curveball that he’ll use early in the count and an occasional changeup. Some scouts aren’t sold on Maeda’s stuff playing in the big leagues, but those who like him think he has No. 4 starter potential.
Righties Shohei Otani and Shintaro Fujinami are the early favorites to be the next elite pitching talents to come out of Japan, but they are only 19 and 20 years old, respectively. Long way to go before they’re MLB ready and made available via the posting process.
Mike asks: I get it that Pat Venditte doesn’t have great stuff, and his main point of interest is that he switch-pitches, but after seven years in the minors with a 2.31 ERA and 376/86 K/BB ratio, isn’t it at least worth just seeing if he can do it in AAA? Why not just release him if they believe in him that little?
This question was sent in right before Venditte was promoted to Triple-A Scranton. Teams still need players to fill out their minor league rosters and soak up the playing time left over by the actual prospects, which is why guys like Venditte continue to get jobs even though the team may not believe they’re a future big leaguer. No club has a prospect for every roster spot on every minor league affiliate. Organizational players are necessary and somewhat important. That said, Venditte has been nails against left-handers this year (.071/.188/.071 with a 43.8% strikeout rate). With Cesar Cabral and Fred Lewis both pitching poorly and getting demoted to Double-A Trenton recently, Venditte just might be next in line for a call-up if another lefty reliever is needed. Unlikely? Yeah, probably. It’s not completely far-fetched though.
Andrew asks: With Dellin Betances being amazing in his new bullpen role, why not approach him with an extension right now? He’s under team control for 6 years I believe, why not offer him 6 years, $10 million? It would give him a big payday now, but also give the Yanks cost certainty as he advances into a more high leverage role.
The Yankees do still have six years of control left over Betances and yes, he has been totally awesome this year. He’s also been completely unpredictable throughout his career and I think his flame out potential is lot higher than many either realize or want to admit. There’s not much of a difference between him and, say, Daniel Bard. Electric when on but a perpetual risk of falling apart at any moment.
David Robertson will earn approximately $11.2M during his six years of team control, so that six-year, $10M deal is in the ballpark. Relievers don’t make much during their years of team control unless they rack up saves, and right now Betances isn’t closing. Maybe he’ll close next year — don’t you just love him as a dominant fireman for the middle innings though? — which would change things. Six years and $10M is a relatively small amount, yet it comes with quite a bit of risk and wouldn’t be much of a bargain unless he takes over as closer at some point relatively soon. I’m not a fan of rushing into extensions with non-closing relievers. Their earning power is so relatively small that it’s not worth the risk, especially when they have fewer than one year in the show. Maybe after 2015?
Russell asks: After watching Gerrit Cole, I am wondering why he turned down the Yankees. Growing up a Yankees fan, being selected by them and turning them down? I do not understand why.
Cole simply decided to go to college, that’s all. Teams knew he would be a tough sign coming into the draft, but the Yankees rolled the dice anyway because they never get a chance to draft that kind of talent. They were prepared to offer him a far-above-slot $4M bonus, but Cole’s family is wealthy and money wasn’t a big factor, so he went to UCLA. That’s life. No player should base a decision like this on their fandom growing up.
Sandy asks: What minor league players must the Yankees protect or could lose to the Rule 5 Draft in December?
General rule of thumb is high school players drafted in 2010 and college players drafted in 2011 (or earlier) will be eligible for this winter’s Rule 5 Draft. International prospects are always tough to pin down because the exact dates they signed are often unknown. Based on that, the notables who will be Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season are OF Tyler Austin, RHP Danny Burawa, SS Cito Culver, OF Ben Gamel, 2B Angelo Gumbs, RHP Mark Montgomery, RHP Branden Pinder, and OF Mason Williams.
Of those eight, I think only Austin, Montgomery, and Williams are locks to be added to the 40-man roster and protected from the Rule 5 Draft. Williams hasn’t hit a lick in two years, but the Yankees have a tendency to protect their one-time top prospects regardless of whether they would actually stick in MLB for a full season (coughJoseCamposcough). There’s a good chance Burawa and/or Montgomery will be called up at some point this season, so they’ll likely already be on the 40-man. Culver and Gumbs shouldn’t be protected and both Gamel and Pinder are on the fence at best. That’s what I think right now, but there are still six months before these decisions have to be made.
Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do but sit back and accept a loss. There’s no one to blame, nowhere to point fingers. You just get beat. It happens. Sixty-something times a year too. Chris Sale and the White Sox cruised to a 3-2 win over the Yankees on Thursday night.
A Great Sale
It was pretty clear the Yankees were in a tough night offensively as soon as the lineup was posted, but I’m not sure even the ’27 Yankees had much of a chance against Sale on Thursday. The lanky southpaw was as sharp as ever despite spending the last month on the disabled list with an elbow issue. He struck out ten in six innings and did not allow a base-runner until Zoilo Almonte singled to center with two outs in the sixth. The same Zoilo Almonte who hit .132/.214/.158 against lefties in Triple-A this year. Baseball is weird sometimes.
The Yankees actually did a good job driving up Sale’s pitch count early in the game — manager Robin Ventura said his ace was going to be limited to 100 pitches or so, though he yanked him after 86 — forcing him to throw 49 pitches in the first three innings. When working the count produced nothing, but they started swinging at pitches in the zone earlier in the count, and that didn’t work either. Had he been perfectly healthy and not been limited to a pitch count, I’m pretty sure Sale would have gone the distance and struck out 14 or 15. He was on top of his game.
David Phelps gave the Yankees exactly what they needed. He gave them both quality and quantity innings, allowing just two runs in seven innings of work. Both runs scored in the second inning, after the slugger formerly know as Paul Konerko doubled with two outs. Alejandro De Aza dunked a bloop ground rule double to right — Almonte came up juuust short on his dive and I’m pretty sure Brett Gardner would have caught that ball — to score Konerko, then Adam Eaton flared a single to left to score De Aza. All with two outs. Yuck.
Aside from that, Phelps was pretty awesome. He retired 16 of the final 18 batters he faced and struck out eight, finishing the night with a season-high 104 pitches. The bullpen got worked pretty hard in Wednesday’s extra innings win over the Cubs, so I’m pretty sure Phelps was going to be left out there to throw about a hundred pitches no matter what. The rotation is a big question mark behind Masahiro Tanaka right now and it would be great if Phelps could give the Yankees something like this every fifth day. Maybe not two runs in seven innings, that’s a high standard, but pitch deep into the game and not let things get out of control. Tough luck loss.
For the second straight day, the Yankees rallied for two runs in the ninth. Too bad Alfredo Aceves spotted the White Sox a third run in the bottom of the eight. A double by Gordon Beckham and a single by Adam Dunn did the trick. He also managed to walk the unwalkable Alexei Ramirez. That turned out to be the game-winning run after Mark Teixeira singled in a pair in the top of the ninth. The tying run was on first when Alfonso Soriano struck out looking to end the game. The pitch was rather high, especially by current strike zone standards (PitchFX plot), and heck, catcher Tyler Flowers didn’t even catch it, but home plate ump Tom Woodring called it a strike so a strike it was. Soriano’s doing a great Vernon Wells impression this year, don’t you think?
The Yankees only had three hits on the night because Sale was dynamite — singles by Almonte, Teixeira, and pinch-hitter Ichiro Suzuki. After going without an extra-base hit for the first time this season on Wednesday — last team to have an extra-base hit-less game! — they did it again on Thursday. Baseball, huh? Derek Jeter drew the team’s only walk in that ninth inning rally. The Yankees struck out 13 times as a team, including three times each by Soriano and Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury’s been pretty bad of late but I can’t give him grief for whiffing three times against Sale.
Other than that … at least the rest of the bullpen got the night off? Not the most eventful game of the year. It’s pretty clear Aceves should be the guy to go whenever Michael Pineda gets healthy. Whoever loses their rotation spot to Pineda can talk over as the long man. That 2009 Aceves magic is long, long gone.
The Yankees are now halfway through their six-game stint in Chicago. Hiroki Kuroda and former Yankee Hector Noesi will meet in the second game of this four-game series on Friday night. Chicago’s next three starters can reasonably be considered replacement level, so if they don’t wake up the bats, nothing will.
3B Eric Jagielo (ribcage) has been placed on the High-A DL, according to Nicholas Flammia. He was visited by the trainer in the middle of an at-bat on Tuesday, hit a homer on the very next pitch, then was taken out of the game as a precaution. It’s said to only be a minor issue and he should be back soon. Oh, and in case you missed it earlier, LHP Manny Banuelos (fatigue) will start in five days after playing catch today.
Triple-A Scranton (2-1 loss to Rochester)
- DH Jose Pirela & LF Ramon Flores: both 2-5 — Pirela struck out … Flores doubles, scored a run, whiffed twice, and threw a runner out at second
- RF Adonis Garcia: 0-5 — hitting streak ends at 17 games
- 3B Scott Sizemore: 1-4, 1 BB, 2 K
- 1B Kyle Roller: 2-4, 1 RBI, 2 K
- SS Zelous Wheeler: 2-3, 2 2B, 1 BB
- 2B Dean Anna: 0-4 — in a 6-for-37 (.162) slump
- LHP Matt Tracy: 8 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 12/7 GB/FB — 62 of 97 pitches were strikes (94%)
- RHP Branden Pinder: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/1 GB/FB — seven of eleven pitches were strikes
The Yankees have been a little lucky this year when it comes to the other team missing key players to injuries. Josh Hamilton was hurt both times they played the Angels, Ryan Braun was out when they played the Brewers, and Jose Abreu is out for this four-game series against the White Sox. Unfortunately, ace lefty Chris Sale will come off the disabled list to start tonight’s game for the ChiSox. It looked like he would make one more minor league rehab start just yesterday.
Anyway, the Yankees rallied late and stole a game from the Cubs yesterday, which was good to see considering they burned through their entire bullpen. It happens, but it’s easier to swallow when it happens in a win. David Phelps has not given the Yankees any length since moving into the rotation — no more than 5.1 innings in each of his three starts — but he’s going to have to soak up some innings tonight. At last six would be nice. Dare I even say seven? Here is the White Sox lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- DH Derek Jeter
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- RF Alfonso Soriano
- 3B Yangervis Solarte
- 2B Brian Roberts
- C John Ryan Murphy
- SS Brendan Ryan
- LF Zoilo Almonte
RHP David Phelps
It’s cool and cloudy on Chicago’s south side, but, unlike New York, there is no rain in the forecast. Tonight’s game is scheduled to start a little after 8pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
Left-hander Manny Banuelos played catch today and had no problem with his sore/fatigued arm, according to Matt Kardos. He will start in five days and be held to either two innings or 35 pitches. Good news, obviously. Seems like Banuelos just ran into a little bit of a dead arm after missing close to two full years following a pair of elbow injuries, including Tommy John surgery. · (4) ·
Cole Tucker | SS
Tucker attends Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix and was the starting shortstop for the gold medal winning Team USA at the 18U World Cup in Taiwan last fall. He’s been very good at several national showcase events this spring. Tucker is committed to Arizona.
Tall and wiry at 6-foot-3 and 165 lbs., Tucker is a switch-hitter who is more advanced and has a better swing from the left side of the plate. He does have bat speed from both sides, however, and he’s more of a contact-oriented gap-to-gap hitter than a power guy. Given his frame, he could certainly add strength and grow into some pop. Tucker runs well and has everything he needs to remain at shortstop long-term — quick first step, strong arm, good hands — there’s just some concern he’ll outgrow the position. Just about everything I’ve read about him referred to him as a gritty, hard-nosed player.
In their latest rankings, Keith Law (subs. req’d), MLB.com, and Baseball America ranked Tucker as the 62nd, 70th, and 83rd best prospect in the draft class, respectively. Switch-hitting shortstops are rather hard to find, but even if he has to drop switch-hitting, Tucker would still remain on the strong side of the platoon. The Yankees have a nice collection of shortstop prospects in the low minors (Abi Avelino, Tyler Wade, Thairo Estrada), but teams always want depth at the position. Their first pick is in the second round (55th overall).