Phillies trade Chase Utley to Dodgers

(Brian Garfinkel/Getty)
(Brian Garfinkel/Getty)

The Phillies traded franchise icon Chase Utley to the Dodgers for two prospects on Wednesday night, both teams announced. Utley had ten-and-five no-trade protection and agreed to a deal to his hometown team. Reports indicate his preference was to go to a contender in Southern California, which limited his market to the Dodgers and Angels, basically.

The Yankees reportedly had some interest in Utley — or at least they had been scouting him in recent weeks — which makes sense because they haven’t gotten a whole lot from the second base position this year. Utley is hitting a weak .217/.284/.333 (66 wRC+) on the season, but he’s been much better since coming off the DL, going 15-for-31 (.484) with five doubles and one homer in eight games. He missed about seven weeks with an ankle problem.

For all intents and purposes, Utley was the final second baseman on the trade market. (The Marlins don’t seem too inclined to move Martin Prado, at least not at a reasonable price.) If Utley truly only wanted to go to Southern California, then the Yankees had no shot at him. It seemed like a long shot the whole time anyway. Like it not, Stephen Drew‘s the second baseman going forward.

DotF: Aaron Judge goes deep in Scranton’s win

RHP James Kaprielian has been bumped up from the Rookie GCL Yanks to Short Season Staten Island, the team announced. The Yankees’ top three picks in this year’s draft (Kaprielian, SS Kyle Holder, LHP Jeff Degano) are all with Staten Island now. I guess I’m going to have to jump on the ferry and catch a game at some point these next two weeks.

Triple-A Scranton (2-1 win over Lehigh Valley)

  • DH Ben Gamel: 2-4, 1 RBI — got picked off first
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-2, 2 BB — in a 2-for-16 (.125) slump
  • LF Jose Pirela: 1-4, 1 2B
  • C Gary Sanchez: 0-4 — in a 3-for-30 (.100) slump after the hot start
  • RF Aaron Judge: 2-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB — 19 homers in 106 games this year after hitting 17 homers in 131 games last year
  • CF Slade Heathcott: 1-4
  • 1B Austin Romine: 0-4
  • RHP Brady Lail: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HB, 11/2 GB/FB — 48 of 76 pitches were strikes (63%) … starting to settle in at this level
  • LHP James Pazos: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 20 of 27 pitches were strikes (74%)
  • RHP Andrew Bailey: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — half of his 26 pitches were strikes … 39/11 K/BB in 30 innings

[Read more…]

Wednesday Night Open Thread

Off-night tonight following the day game, so I recommend checking out this Dan Barbarisi article on the Yankees hiring recently retired players as scouts. Matt Daley, Dan Giese, Eric Chavez, Brandon Duckworth, and Drew Henson all work in the team’s scouting department these days. Daley spoke about the transition from playing to scouting — things like setting a schedule and arranging travel are new to him because players have all that stuff done for them — and assistant GM Billy Eppler talked about what draws the Yankees to these guys. Check it out. Great read.

Here is your open thread for the evening. The Mets are playing the Orioles and that game is relevant to the Yankees because the O’s are only a modest 5.5 games back of New York. They’re sitting in a wildcard spot and have played very well of late. Don’t count ’em out yet. The Tigers and Cubs will be on ESPN as well. Talk about those games, Barbarisi’s article, this afternoon’s win, or anything else here.

Yankees flip Twins the Bird as they win 4-3 and sweep the series

(Al Bello/Getty)

The future is here and it is… now. Nathan Eovaldi looked lights out for most of his outing to earn his 13th win, and, of course, Greg Bird‘s pair of two-run homers drove in all the runs that the Yankees needed. Oh, and the Yankees took a series sweep against the Twins, which is pretty neat. They won 4-2.

Bye, bye Birdie

In the bottom of fourth, with two outs and Carlos Beltran on first, Greg Bird went deep against Ervin Santana for his first ML home run and boy, it was not a cheapie. Bird clobbered a changeup up in the zone and deposited it into the second deck in right. Oh, and New York led 2-0.

Sterling’s call? “Bye bye, Birdie! Here he is, the Birdman of New York.”

In the sixth inning, in the same situation (two outs and Beltran on first), Bird went yard again. This time, he took a 92 mph fastball up the middle and didn’t miss any of it. The Yankees, trailing 3-2 before the home run, took a 4-3 lead for good.

Also, as for his swing, I thought it looked a lot like Shawn Green’s, which is not a bad company for a comparison. Take a look:



Mister Eovaldi, if you’re nasty

Nathan Eovaldi retired the first 16 batters he faced. He didn’t allow a single baserunner until one out in the sixth inning, when Chris Herrmann fought off an inside fastball for a bloop single.

Eovaldi had a lot of things going on in today’s game. First off – he had his swing-and-miss stuff working. He got a total of 15 whiffs today – seven each from four-seamer and splitter and one from slider – and struck out eight in seven innings. He definitely pitched like a guy who can throw 100 mph. Speaking of which, he was just pumpin’ it today – per Beyond the Box Score, Eovaldi threw 28 pitches over 100 mph. That is just nuts. He also topped out at 102.4 mph per BrooksBaseball, which is also incredible considering that he’s a non-Aroldis Chapman pitcher.

Oh, and also important – he was throwing strikes. He put 83 pitches out of 120 into the strikezone, good for a 69.2 strike percentage – a nice number.

(Source: Getty)

In the top of sixth, however, things became a bit tense. After Herrmann broke up the perfecto, Shane Robinson followed it up with another single. Aaron Hicks grounded out to third – on a play that required a very, very nice pick and throw from Chase Headley – to make it two outs and two runners in scoring position. Brian Dozier worked a full count walk to get the bases loaded and Joe Mauer singled on a 1-2 slider to tie the game, 2-2.

Eovaldi gave up another 3-2 count walk to Miguel Sano. Next up, Trevor Plouffe. On a 1-2 count, Plouffe hit a soft grounder that was just soft enough that no fielder could reach it before another run scored, 3-2. So, to summarize this inning – death by soft hits, a Joe Mauer single, and full count walks. Brutal. But that’s baseball – things can unravel very, very quickly.

Fortunately, Eovaldi had a very nice bounceback inning in the seventh after the Yanks took a lead on another Bird homer. He retired all three Twins – Eduardo Escobar, Herrmann and Robinson – in a row to mark a tidy end to a good start.


I gotta tell you – I was biting my nails a bit with two outs in the eighth when Chasen Shreve walked Joe Mauer and had to face Miguel Sano. Well, there’s definitely that preconceived notion that right-handed hitters are stronger versus lefty pitchers but in Sano’s case (though he hasn’t played in ML so much yet), he has struggled relatively against the southpaws (93 wRC+) while murdering the righties (196 wRC+). And, just like that, Shreve struck him out in five pitches to get out of the inning.

Dellin Betances picked up his eighth save of the year after striking out two in a three-up, three-down ninth inning. With 101 K’s in the season, he became the first Yankee reliever to have a back-to-back 100+ K seasons (135 last year).

Box score, standings, highlights and WPA

Here’s today’s box score, updated standings, video highlights and WPA.

Source: FanGraphs

Tomorrow, the Yankees will welcome the Indians in Bronx for a four-game home series. It’s nice to start a homestand with a sweep and, hopefully, the momentum will roll for the Bombers onto the next. Enjoy the rest of your hump day!

Rosenthal: Angels could look to hire Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler

(Charlie Neibergall/AP)
(Charlie Neibergall/AP)

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Angels could look to hire Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler to be their GM after the season. Ex-GM Jerry Dipoto stepped down a few weeks following a long power struggle with manage Mike Scioscia — owner Arte Moreno sided with Scioscia, so Dipoto left — and former GM Bill Stoneman has stepped in on an interim basis.

The Angels lost a potential GM/front office candidate yesterday when Dave Dombrowski agreed to join the Red Sox, and I’m sure he was relatively high on their list. He was high on everyone’s list. (The Yankees also lost a trade partner. Brian Cashman and Dombrowski have hooked up for a ton of trades over the years.) Then again, it seems unlikely Dombrowski would have “settled” for a GM job at this point of his career.

Eppler, 39, has interviewed for several GM jobs in recent years — he was a finalist for the Padres GM job last year before they hired A.J. Preller — and in fact he was reportedly the runner-up to Dipoto for the Angels GM job a few years ago, so Rosenthal’s report makes sense. The groundwork has been laid and the two sides are already familiar with each other. The feeling out phase is already complete.

The Yankees promoted Eppler to assistant GM in January 2012 and I thought there was a chance he was being lined up to succeed Brian Cashman, but Cashman has since signed another contract. Eppler has been with the Yankees since 2005, climbing the ranks from scout to pro scouting director to assistant GM. By all accounts he’s a really smart guy. They don’t call nobodies for GM interviews.

I don’t believe the Yankees can block Eppler from leaving for a GM job — they have the contractual right to block the interview, but that rarely happens — since it’s an upward move, so I guess the questions are a) do the Angels want him, and b) does Eppler want to join the Angels? On one hand, there are only 30 GM jobs. On the other, the Angels are kinda dysfunctional and have an unfireable manager. It’s not a great situation.

Either way, it seems like only a matter of time until Eppler gets the opportunity to be a big league GM. Maybe it’s with the Yankees as Cashman’s eventual successor, maybe it’s with the Angels, maybe it’s somewhere else entirely. (Mariners?) The Angels might not be the most desirable GM job out there, but being a GM is better than being an assistant GM.

Game 119: Finish the Sweep


The Twins always seem to cure whatever ails the Yankees, don’t they? The offense was sputtering, then the Yankees scored eight runs in back-to-back games. The bullpen was short, then CC Sabathia recorded an out in the seventh inning for the first time in a month and a half and only the second time in three months. A-Rod slumping? Grand slam. The Twinkies are always good for a pick-me-up.

The three-game series with Minnesota ends this afternoon and the Yankees are going for the three-game sweep, allowing them to stay atop the AL East. It seems like the only team capable of putting up a fight against the Blue Jays is the Yankees, isn’t it? New York has won five of its last six games. Time to make is six of seven. Here is the Twins’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. RF Carlos Beltran
  5. 1B Greg Bird
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. C John Ryan Murphy
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi

It’s a little cloudy in New York and there’s a slight chance of rain for most of the afternoon. Not a major storm or anything, but possibly some showers on and off. Hopefully nothing that interrupts the game. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Michael Pineda (forearm) threw his bullpen today with no issues and will make another minor league rehab start Friday … Mark Teixeira (leg) is still really sore and is not even available to pinch-hit. The good news is the Yankees still don’t consider this a DL issue and he remains day-to-day … Dustin Ackley (back) hit off a tee yesterday and will take more swings today.

Thanks to a little patience, the Yanks now have a standout defensive shortstop in Gregorius


This offseason, the Yankees seemed to have a very specific goal of improving the infield defense. It was really bad last year for several reasons, but three of four infielders became free agents in the offseason, so the Yankees had a clean slate. They could start fresh and bring in any type of players they wanted, and they prioritized defense.

The improved infield defense did not show up the first few weeks of 2015. Chase Headley made an alarming number of errors early on — 14 errors in the team’s first 60 games! — but has since settled in and played well (four errors in 58 games since). Stephen Drew never really had a defensive slump this year. He just hasn’t hit. Didi Gregorius, for a while, didn’t hit or field.

The start of the season was quite ugly for the team’s new shortstop. Gregorius wasn’t hitting — not that many expected him to have an impact at the plate — and he wasn’t fielding well either, specifically when it came to decision making. Looking back on it, it sure seems like replacing Derek Jeter was overwhelming at first. I was too quick to toss that aside as something that could wear on Gregorius.

“I just think he’s maturing as a player,” said Joe Girardi to Erik Boland last month when asked about Gregorius looking more comfortable. “He got off to a slow start and we’ve just kind of seen an upward kick the whole season and this has been his best month. I think June was better than May, May was better than April, and he continues to improve.”

Didi’s bat has come around — he’s hitting .257/.306/.340 overall and .278/.314/.377 since May 15th, and this year the league average shortstop is hitting .257/.304/.373 — and so has his defense. It feels like we see a play like this once a game nowadays:

Gosh, when was the last time we saw a regular Yankees shortstop make a play like that? Derek Jeter’s going to the Hall of Fame for his bat, not his glove, and he simply wasn’t able to make plays like that. That play is a single to left field with Jeter, especially late career Jeter, the guy Gregorius is replacing.

It wasn’t going to take much for Didi to be an upgrade over last year’s version of the Cap’n, both at the plate and especially in the field. Check out the defensive spray charts for 2014 Jeter and 2015 Gregorius:

Didi Gregorius Derek Jeter fielding spray chart

Gregorius has far more range to his left — some of that is due to the shift, but not all of it — and he’s been better at making tough plays. Notice the different shades of the dots. The dark green ones are the routine plays, according to Inside Edge. Everything else is a non-routine play, with red representing the toughest plays. Gregorius has way more light green, yellow, orange, and red dots in his spray chart than Jeter did all of last season. He’s not just making more plays, he’s making tougher plays.

The AL average is a .092 BABIP on ground balls hit towards the shortstop position this year. Against the Yankees it’s a .098 BABIP, but that’s for the entire season, and Gregorius was pretty bad in the field early on. Since the calendar flipped to May, when Didi first started to look comfortable in the field, it’s a .091 BABIP on ground balls hit to short against the Yankees. So it’s been below-average overall but better of late, so at least it’s moving in the right direction.

“For me, his head is in a better place,” third base coach Joe Espada told Brendan Kuty last month. “He’s more comfortable, he’s more relaxed. You start seeing the things I know he’s capable of doing. It’s more of the state of mind, and that’s why he’s performing, in my opinion, much better than the way he started.”

Those first few weeks were not pretty at all. Gregorius looked like he was in over his head and there was reason to think the Yankees might need to find a new shortstop in the offseason. Now? Now Gregorius is a borderline top ten shortstop by WAR and he’s trending in the right direction on both sides of the ball. His offense is about on par with the league average shortstop and his defensive ability is becoming a major asset.

The Yankees acquired Gregorius because of his glove first and foremost, and although it took a little while for his defensive tools to turn into consistent and occasionally spectacular outs, Didi has now transformed himself into a top notch gloveman at short. The Yankees have shown a lot of patience with young players this season, and for the most part they’ve been reward. No young player has rewarded their patience more than Gregorius.