MLB will consider making changes to the foreign substance rules after the season, according to the Associated Press. “We will — like we do every offseason — look at this issue, but remember, pine tar is one of a number of foreign substances, and you have to have a rule that fits for all of them,” said MLB COO Rob Manfred while commissioner Bud Selig added “when the year is over, we ought to look at all this.”
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the Michael Pineda pine tar fiasco, it’s that players and coaches don’t mind if pitchers use a foreign substance as long as they aren’t too obvious about it. Even hitters have said so. These substances generally do not give the pitcher an unfair advantage — the pine tar creates a better grip but doesn’t make the ball move unnaturally — and there is a safety element involved. I say legalize substances and let the whole process be transparent. The pitcher has to declare to the umpire what he’s using before entering the game and anything beyond that is illegal. · (18) ·
The Yankees have been playing nothing but blowouts for about a week now. Six of their last eight games have been decided by at least six runs, including the last two. The Bombers were on the wrong end of the lopsided score last night. I guess they’re trying to avoid the regression of last year’s MLB-best one-run game record (30-16) by simply not playing any one-run games. Bold. I like it.
This afternoon’s pitching matchup (Vidal Nuno vs. Hector Santiago) suggests another big day for the offenses, but, knowing how these things usually go, it’ll probably be a pitcher’s duel. Baseball is weird. Either way, I would greatly appreciate a win in my first trip to Yankee Stadium this season. Here is the Angels lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- SS Derek Jeter
- DH Carlos Beltran
- RF Alfonso Soriano
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- LF Brett Gardner
- 2B Brian Roberts
- 3B Kelly Johnson
- C John Ryan Murphy
LHP Vidal Nuno
It rained overnight in New York but it has cleared up now. It’s cloudy and cool now and more rain is expected this evening, but nothing that should impact the game unless they go to extra innings. This afternoon’s game is scheduled to begin at 1:05pm ET and you can only watch on FOX Sports 1. Click here to figure which channel that is in your area. Enjoy the game.
Right-hander Jose Campos underwent Tommy John surgery yesterday, the Yankees announced. He was said to be out with elbow inflammation, but obviously it was more serious than that. Campos is on the 40-man roster, so his spot will essentially be unusable like Manny Banuelos’ last year.
Campos, 21, had a 3.41 ERA (3.11 FIP) in 87 closely-monitored innings for Low-A Charleston last season. He missed most of 2012 with a fracture in his elbow. Campos barely pitched in Spring Training and the Yankees were said to be taking it slow with him early this year, but I have to think the elbow’s been an issue for a few weeks now. You don’t just wake up one day and have Tommy John surgery. Oh well, see you next year, Jose. · (39) ·
Can’t say that was a fun way to start the homestand. The Angels demolished the Yankees 13-1 on Friday night in a classic let down game following that wild series up in Boston. This was not one for the highlight reel. Let’s recap the blowout loss:
- Hi-Rocked: Hiroki Kuroda couldn’t get his offspeed pitches to behave for the second straight start, but unlike last time out, he was unable to limit the damage. The Halos tattooed Kuroda for eight runs (six earned) — the most he’s ever allowed in MLB — on ten hits in only 4.2 innings. Six of the ten hits came in two-strike counts because he didn’t have a finish pitch. It’s the first time Kuroda failed to complete five innings in a start since last May. Yuck. Shake it off, do better next time.
- NOffense: I thought C.J. Wilson was really, really sharp in this game. He was throwing four pitches for strikes and he had the Yankees off balance all night. They didn’t score their only run until his pitch count was over the century mark and he started to run out of gas in the sixth. Brett Gardner had two hits, Derek Jeter walked and singled, Carlos Beltran doubled, Yangervis Solarte walked twice, John Ryan Murphy and Brian Roberts both singled in garbage time, and that was it. Wilson shut the Yankees right down.
- Leftovers: Shout out to Bruce Billings for sparing the bullpen. He allowed four runs and threw 76 pitches across four innings, so chances are he will be sent to Triple-A or designated for assignment in favor of a fresh arm tomorrow. The World Series ring will be in the mail … Shawn Kelley got the final out of the ninth because he hadn’t worked in a week … six of the Bombers’ last eight games have been decided by six or more runs, which is nuts. The Yankees have now allowed double-digit runs an MLB-high four times this season.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees will try to rebound behind Vidal Nuno on Saturday afternoon. The Angels will send Newark-raised left-hander Hector Santiago to the mound. If you watch to catch the game, check out RAB Tickets.
- RHP Jose Campos is currently sidelined with elbow inflammation. He started the year on the DL supposedly because the Yankees were taking it easy on him, so either that was a lie or he got hurt recently. He had a fractured elbow in 2012.
- RHP Bryan Mitchell was placed on the 7-day DL, also with elbow inflammation. An MRI came back clean. RHP David Herndon and LHP Fred Lewis were also placed on the DL. No word on their injuries, body parts or otherwise.
- LHP Cesar Cabral has accepted his outright assignment and joined Triple-A Scranton, so he remains in the organization. He could have elected free agency.
- RHP Diego Moreno was bumped up to Triple-A Scranton and SS Carmen Angelini was sent down to Double-A Trenton. SS Dean Anna will take over as the everyday shortstop for the RailRiders.
Triple-A Scranton was rained out. No makeup date has been announced. They don’t play Buffalo again until early-July.
Double-A Trenton (14-10 win over Portland)
- CF Mason Williams: 2-5, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 E (fielding)
- LF Ben Gamel: 0-6, 1 K — couldn’t join the party
- 3B Rob Segedin: 2-3, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB — he has four extra-base hits this year: one double and three homers
- 1B Kyle Roller: 2-2, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 1 HBP — 12-for-24 with three doubles and five homers in his last seven games
- DH Rob Refsnyder: 1-5, 1 R
- SS Ali Castillo: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI — blew the game open with a bases-clearing double in the ninth
- LHP Matt Tracy: 4.1 IP, 12 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 Balk, 9/2 GB/FB — 54 of 94 pitches were strikes (57%) … allowed five runs total in his first three starts
That was one eventful road trip. During the seven games through Tampa and Boston, the Yankees managed to turn a triple play, lose Ivan Nova to Tommy John surgery, win three blowouts, lose two blowouts, lose Michael Pineda to a ten-game suspension, and make 18 roster moves. Yes, 18.
Thankfully, that is over with the Yankees are back in the Bronx for a nine-game homestand. They’re stuck playing with a 24-man roster for another nine games because of Pineda, but whatever. At least they get to sleep in their own beds. Mike Trout and the Angels are in town for three games this weekend, so we’re going to hear a lot about how they are always tough on the Yankees even though that hasn’t been true for about five years now. Anyway, here is the Angels lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- SS Derek Jeter
- RF Carlos Beltran
- DH Alfonso Soriano
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- LF Brett Gardner
- 2B Brian Roberts
- 3B Yangervis Solarte
RHP Hiroki Kuroda
It is cloudy and chilly in New York this evening, and there is some rain the forecast later tonight. Doesn’t look like it will be a factor unless the game goes to extra innings. First pitch is scheduled for a little after 7pm ET and you can watch the game on YES. Enjoy.
Rotation Update: As expected, Joe Girardi confirmed David Phelps will start against the Mariners on Wednesday in place of Pineda. The timing of that a) lines Pineda up to start the day his suspension expires, and b) gives Kuroda, Masahiro Tanaka, and Vidal Nuno an extra day of rest next week.
Forgotten infielder Brendan Ryan will begin an official minor league rehab assignment with High-A Tampa on Sunday, according to Dan Barbarisi. Joe Girardi said they want him to get about 50 at-bats after missing almost all of Spring Training, so he’ll be on the rehab assignment for more than just a few days.
Ryan, 32, had a lower back problem and later an upper back problem in camp, forcing him to start the season on the DL. Given the timing of everything, it seems like he could be activated right when Michael Pineda’s ten-game suspension ends the Monday after next and they go back to a 25-man roster. Pineda returns to the active roster, the extra reliever goes down, and Ryan essentially replaces Dean Anna as the backup middle infielder. Activating him earlier would require some more roster moves. · (23) ·
MLB has essentially eliminated the new transfer rule, effective immediately, the league announced. As we saw when Dustin Pedroia botched a potential double play last night, the new rule said a clean transfer from glove to barehand was required for an out. Things will now go back to the way they were for the last century or so. A bobble will usually result in an out if it was made on a transfer. Thank goodness. MLB did a real bang up job fixing something that wasn’t broken with the new rule. · (27) ·
Following a successful seven-game road trip, the Yankees return home to the Bronx to kick off a nine-game homestand tonight. The first of three teams to visit is the Angels, who have won just seven of 22 games at the new Yankee Stadium. The Halos used to give the Yankees fits but that really isn’t the case these days.
What Have They Done Lately?
Mike Scioscia’s team has split the first six games of their nine-game trip to the East Coast. They just took two of three from the Nationals in Washington and were a spectacular blown save away from a sweep (four-run ninth!). The Angels are 10-11 with a +17 run differential overall. That’s actually the second best run differential in the league.
At 5.3 runs per games with a team 111 wRC+, Scioscia’s club has been one of the very best offensive teams in baseball so far this season. They are without two key players in OF Josh Hamilton (thumb) and OF Kole Calhoun (ankle) right now. That’s their cleanup and leadoff hitters, respectively. Both were off to strong starts and will be out for several weeks. They aren’t returning this weekend.
The Angels are led by the best player in baseball. New Jersey kid OF Mike Trout (172 wRC+) is still amazing and not in anyway underperforming this year. He’s amazing. 1B Albert Pujols (171 wRC+) leads the league with eight homers and is having a great year, but he isn’t all the way back to being his old self. This version is hitting .284 with a .351 OBP. The old Pujols hit like .330 with a .440-something OBP. He’s still super dangerous though. These two bat second and third in the lineup and will be scary as hell all weekend.
Yankees killer 2B Howie Kendrick (121 wRC+) is off to a nice start, as is the catching tandem of C Chris Iannetta (114 wRC+) And C Hank Conger (97 wRC+). OF Collin Cowgill (178 wRC+ in limited time) has done a fine job filling in during the injuries. Former Yankees OF/DH Raul Ibanez (46 wRC+) and OF Brennan Boesch (61 wRC+ in very limited time) have had poor starts, ditto SS Erick Aybar (71 wRC+) and 3B David Freese (21 wRC+). Freese has been losing playing time to 3B Ian Stewart (102 wRC+ in limited time) lately. OF J.B. Shuck (44 wRC+) and IF John McDonald (160 wRC+) fill out the bench and have played sparingly.
Friday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. LAA) vs. LHP C.J. Wilson (vs. NYY) (GIFs)
Of all the big money pitching contracts handed out in recent years, I think Wilson’s get the most undeserved crap. He has been a steady and reliable horse for the Halos. The 33-year-old comes into tonight’s start with a 4.21 ERA (3.92 FIP) in four starts this year, pairing an excellent strikeout rate (9.82 K/9 and 26.4 K%) with good ground ball (46.4%) and walk (3.16 BB/9 and 8.5 BB%) totals. Righties (.344 wOBA) has roughed him up a bit this year, but not lefties (.294 wOBA). Wilson throws five pitches pretty frequently: low-90s fastball, upper-80s cutter, mid-80s changeup, low-80s slider, and upper-70s curveball. That’s a lot of different looks at different velocities. He took a pounding in his first start but has been solid since.
Saturday: LHP Vidal Nuno (No vs. LAA) vs. LHP Hector Santiago (vs. NYY) (GIFs)
Santiago, 26, is a local guy from Newark. He has a 3.68 ERA (4.17 FIP) in four starts this year after being acquired from the White Sox in the three-team Mark Trumbo trade over the winter. As usual, his strikeout (8.18 K/9 and 21.1 K%) and walk (4.91 BB/9 and 12.6 BB%) rates are high while his ground ball rate (29.5%) is low. Righties (.321 wOBA) have hit him harder than lefties (.285 wOBA). Santiago is best described as a three and a half pitch pitcher. He uses low-90s four and two-seam fastballs to set up his low-80s changeup, and every once in a while he’ll bust out a mid-70s screwball. Click the link for the requisite GIF. Santiago’s first two starts were rough, but the last two have been very good.
Sunday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (No vs. LAA) vs. RHP Garrett Richards (vs. NYY) (GIFs)
The Angels have a young back of the rotation and Richards has been the standout so far. The 25-year-old has pitched to a 2.52 ERA (2.91 FIP) in his first four starts with very good strikeout (8.64 K/9 and 24.2 K%) and grounder (51.7%) rates. He does walk too many (5.04 BB/9 and 14.1 BB%), which has been an issue in his previous three big league seasons. Richards has a reverse split early this year — righties have a .301 wOBA, lefties a .201 wOBA — and he’s essentially a two-pitch pitcher, relying on a mid-90s fastball and a mid-80s slider. He’s throw a handful of upper-70s curveballs per start, but that’s it. No changeup to speak of. The Athletics roughed Richards up two starts ago, but otherwise he’s allowed two runs in his other three starts combined.
The Angels were off yesterday, so Scioscia’s bullpen is as rested as can be right now. RHP Ernesto Frieri (8.80 FIP) melted down big time on Wednesday but remains the closer. RHP Joe Smith (2.33 FIP) and RHP Kevin Jepsen (3.57 FIP) have been the primary setup guys. LHP Nick Maronde (0.69 FIP in very limited time) is Scioscia’s only lefty reliever.
The rest of the team’s bullpen is … an interesting mix. RHP Yoslan Herrera (4.03 FIP) last pitched in the big leagues in 2008 before being called up a few weeks ago. RHP Fernando Salas (4.58 FIP) closed for the Cardinals for a few months back in 2011 but has been derailed by control problems. RHP Michael Kohn (3.71 FIP) is just a guy named Michael Kohn. Can’t find anything interesting about him. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of the Yankees bullpen, then check out Monkey with a Halo for some Angels analysis. The Angels blogosphere really leaves something to be desired now that True Grich seems to be dead.
Got a dozen questions for you this week, including a bunch about prospects. We’re starting to get an overwhelming amount of questions each week — I had over 50 marked for consideration this week — and I’m trying to answer as many as I can each Friday. Don’t take it personally if yours is not included. Keep sending them in.
Brendan asks: If some of these prospects stay hot (Aaron Judge), when is the earliest we could expect a call up?
Judge is the one guy who I think will get moved up sooner rather than later. The Yankees said they started him with Low-A Charleston because he didn’t play at all after signing last year and they wanted to take it slow, but now that he’s showing no rust and is raking, a quick move up to High-A Tampa is in order. As for other everyone else, I think we’re still a good two months or so away. The season is young and most promotions don’t come until midseason, after each league’s All-Star Game.
Jagielo, no doubt. It would still be Jagielo for me even if Bichette had hit well these last two years. I have less questions about Jagielo’s all-around offensive game as well as his defense. Maybe Bichette will have a higher offensive peak if it all works out, but I think Jagielo projects to be the better all-around player and it really isn’t all that close. Bichette’s been great this year, but three weeks do not erase the last two years.
Upstate Yanks asks: When are we going to see Mark Montgomery come up? Could be a future late-inning guy no?
Probably in the second half and yes. I actually think I ranked him too high in my Preseason Top 30 — Danny Burawa jumped him on the depth chart before getting hurt — and I’m not quite as bullish as I was last year at this time. The slider still misses bats though, and has long as that continues to happen, he’ll project to be a late-inning arm.
Glenn asks: I know he’s only been in the system a short time but it always seems like Caleb Smith is putting up nice numbers. Is there potential in him for the future?
Oh yes, absolutely. Smith might be the best sleeper in the organization right now. The Yankees grabbed him out of Sam Houston State with their 14th round pick last year, gave him $100k, and he has a 1.78 ERA (~2.24 FIP) with a 26.7% strikeout rate in 65.2 pro innings. That was before yesterday’s 13-strikeout performance. The walks are a bit high (9.2%) but Smith is a big lefty (listed at 6-foot-3 and 200 lbs.) with a low-to-mid-90s fastball and two legit offspeed pitches (low-80s slider and changeup). Is he the next Randy Johnson? No, but there’s legit MLB potential there.
Dan asks: Peter O’Brien is hitting the cover off the ball, what are the chances he gets called up to AA this year? Since he seems to be completely blocked at C, do you see the Yankees moving his position? Same questions for Gary Sanchez: if his bat can make an impact in the next couple of years, is there any chance they try him out at a different position, because he’s blocked by McCann? Do you see him being promoted to AAA this year?
O’Brien to Double-A will definitely happen at some point. That will be one of the midseason promotions I mentioned earlier. He’ll eventually move off catcher because he’s a pretty bad catcher, not because he’s blocked. O’Brien worked out at third base last year but that didn’t work. They’re giving right field a try early this year. I assume first base is next. As for Gary Sanchez, he should stay behind the plate as long as possible regardless of Brian McCann and whoever else is ahead of him on the depth chart. He’s way more valuable there. Let him develop behind the plate and worry about where he fits into the MLB roster when the time comes. If nothing else, staying behind the plate makes him more attractive to other teams in trades. As for the promotion to Triple-A Scranton, yeah I think that will happen later this summer.
Jack asks: Among the following 4: a) would you rank the most likely (if any) to succeed as a major league regular, and b) has the ability to stick at 3B at the majors: Jagielo, DBJ, Andujar, Austin.
To answer the first question, I’d rank them Jagielo, Tyler Austin, Miguel Andujar, and Bichette. I had Austin over Jagielo in my Preseason Top 30 but they were right next too each other (almost interchangeable) and Austin has dealt with some injury problems in recent weeks. As for sticking at third base, I’d have them Jagielo, Andujar, Austin, and Bichette. I’m not married to the order of the last two and I wouldn’t argue Bichette over Austin. Jagielo and Andujar are legit third baseman. The other guys are maybes at the position who are better off elsewhere.
Paul asks: Too early, I know, but so far the only Yankees worthy of All-Star berths are Masahiro Tanaka and maybe Jacoby Ellsbury, right? Nobody else is standing out to me. Who do you think the fans will vote for? Derek Jeter seems like a good shot considering he’s Jeter and has avoided falling on his face. Anyone else?
I think Jeter will win the fan vote by a mile at shortstop. Who will take votes from him? Jose Reyes? That’s the only other reasonable candidate and he’s hurt all the time. The current AL shortstop landscape is a wasteland. Jeter has hit well this year and I think he’ll go to the All-Star Game. Tanaka and Ellsbury are both worthy right now — Ellsbury’s not a maybe for me, he’s been too good to be on the bubble — and I think Carlos Beltran will get some consideration, though there are always a ton of qualified outfielders. McCann also has a shot, especially if his recent offensive surge is a sign he’s getting back to being himself at the plate. The AL catching crop is weak, though Jason Castro and Matt Wieters are legitimate alternatives.
Matt asks: Could the Yankees look to make a deal with the Cubs for Starlin Castro, being that he had sort of a rocky season last year with the organization, and the presence of their prospect Javier Baez (though he is struggling now) seemingly on the way? Obviously depending on how he performs, what do you think it would take to get a deal done for Castro at the end of the season?
Yes, I think so. Obviously it depends how he rebounds from that disaster last year. Castro isn’t a shortstop — I don’t know what he is, really. Maybe a second baseman? — and he’s a hacker at the plate, but he has some power and speed. He also just turned 24, so he’s still very young with the potential for improvement. The contract is scary if you don’t think he’ll rebound (owed $49M through 2019), but that’s the Cubs’ problem. I’m interested but I want to see what happens this year. There haven’t been many players like Castro traded over the years, so figuring out what it would take to get him is mighty tough. How do you value him? As a future star or just an okay infielder?
New Guy asks: Now that Ivan Nova is out for a while, what would it take to make Jeff Samardzija a Yankee? I’ve always liked him and he is always liked to trade rumors. Are you interested?
I was about a year ago, but Samardzija didn’t improve much (if at all) last season and this year is more of the same. His strikeout rate this year is actually way, way down, but it is still very early. Samardzija strikes me as a classic “whole is less than the sum of the parts” guy, like Edwin Jackson and A.J. Burnett. The stuff says he should be an ace and you keep waiting for him to turn into an ace, but he leaves you waiting and waiting. All while he’ll show enough flashes to keep you interested. Samardzija is affordable ($5.345M in 2014, free agent after 2015) and he’s a fine mid-rotation horse, but he’s already 29 and I’m not sure how much longer you can wait for him to live up to the potential. The Cubs are marketing him as an ace and he just isn’t that.
Josh asks: You just did a piece of the Yanks trying to make a move for Cliff Lee. What do you think about Kyle Kendrick. Younger, and would come a lot cheaper. Hasn’t had a great start, but maybe they could buy low.
I’m not a fan of Kendrick. He’s a solid back of the rotation type who limits walks and gets grounders, but he is surprisingly expensive ($7.675M this year) and I’m not sure an upper-80s sinker/low-80s changeup righty is someone I trust in the AL East. I’d rather give David Phelps a try before giving up prospects for Kendrick. Lee is (still) an elite pitcher and I’m not a fan of cutting corners when it comes to those guys. Play the price and add a true difference maker. No one gets upset over traded prospects in October.
Joe asks: Watching the Yankees so far this season, they are definitely going 1st to 3rd and 2nd to home A LOT more than previous years. Was wondering if you could do a comparison between this year and previous years.
Sure can. These numbers do not include last night’s game (couldn’t wait around for Baseball Reference to update overnight), but here are the team’s first-to-third numbers (small sample size, yadda yadda yadda):
|1st to 3rd Opps.||1st to 3rds||1st to 3rd %||Overall XB%|
Joe is correct, the Yankees have absolutely been going first-to-third more often this season. They’ve been taking the extra-base in general — score from second on a single, score from first on a double, etc. — more often as well. The league average for taking the extra-base is around 40% and the Yankees were a bit below that the last few years. This year they are well above-average.
The reason for the improvement is pretty obvious. Ellsbury, Yangervis Solarte, Kelly Johnson, and Brian Roberts are quicker than the guys they replaced, and both Jeter and Beltran are very smart base-runners who make up for their lack of speed with instincts. I think their first-to-third and overall extra-base rate will come down a bit as the season progresses just because guys will start to get tired and stuff like that, but they should still be quite a bit better than the last few years. Between all the defensive shifts and better base-running, this is a new breed of Yankees baseball.