DotF: Gittens, Aguilar homer in Charleston’s blowout win

The season is two months old now and I’m pretty sure I haven’t updated the standings once, so let’s do that now. Daren Willman pointed out that, heading into yesterday’s game, the Yankees had the second highest minor league winning percentage this year at .593. Only the Indians (.620) have been better. Minor league winning percentage means basically nothing, so I caution you not to read too much into it. The standings updates today are more to keep track of postseason races because hey, the playoffs are fun.

Triple-A Scranton (8-1 loss to Charlotte) 31-27 and 1.5 games back in the division

  • RF Ben Gamel: 1-3, 1 BB
  • CF Aaron Judge: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB — second steal in as many games
  • LF Jake Cave: 1-4, 1 RBI
  • DH Tyler Austin: 0-4
  • 1B Nick Swisher: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 E (fielding)
  • RHP Chad Green: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HB, 9/2 GB/FB — 70 of 108 pitches were strikes (65%) … 108 pitches in 5.2 innings is an awful lot
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 17 of 33 pitches were strikes (52%) … you’re not going to get back to the Bronx like that, Johnny
  • LHP Neal Cotts: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 15 of 22 pitches were strikes (68%)
  • LHP Jame Pazos: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 2/0 GB/FB — nine strikes, 12 pitches

[Read more…]

2016 Draft: Cal Quantrill

Cal Quantrill | RHP

Background
Quantrill, 20, is indeed the son of former Yankee and longtime big leaguer Paul Quantrill. The Yankees selected Cal out of high school in the 26th round of the 2013 draft basically as a shot in the dark. They had no realistic chance of signing him given the draft pool and his strong commitment to Stanford. Quantrill had a 2.58 ERA with 118 strikeouts and 42 walks in 129 college innings. He made three starts as a sophomore last year, blew out his elbow, had Tommy John surgery, and hasn’t pitched since.

Scouting Report
Before elbow reconstruction, the 6-foot-3 and 185 lb. Quantrill was the early favorite to go first overall in this year’s draft. He ran his fastball in the 90-94 mph range and his changeup was already being touted as a big league out pitch. Quantrill also throws sharp sliders and curves and he located everything well. In addition to the impressive four-pitch mix, he also earned big time praise for his pitching aptitude and presence. Quantrill carried himself like a big leaguer on the mound, which I guess isn’t a surprise for a kid who grew up around the game. Although he did not pitch for Stanford this spring, Quantrill has worked out for teams in private showcases, so it’s not like no one has seen him since last year.

Miscellany
As you can imagine, the Tommy John surgery has clouded Quantrill’s draft outlook. MLB.com and Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranked him as the 22nd and 23rd best prospect in the draft class, respectively. Baseball America had him a little lower at 38th. The Yankees pick 18th and, obviously, they have a tiny little bit of history with Quantrill. Someone in the organization liked him enough to convince the bosses to pop him in 2013.

The Tommy John surgery is a no doubt risk. I know everyone likes to say it’s routine these days, but there’s always a chance Quantrill will continue to have elbow problems and/or his stuff won’t come all the way back. Teams have shown a willingness to take kids rehabbing from Tommy John surgery — Brady Aiken, Jeff Hoffman, and Erick Fedde were all first round picks in recent years despite having their elbows rebuilt prior to the draft — and really, only club needs to be willing to roll the dice.

Game 57: HOPE Week

(Yankees)
(Yankees)

The Yankees are finally back home after that ten-game road trip that seemed like it would never end. They return home to kick off HOPE Week, the team’s annual community outreach event.

Today the Yankees were in New Rochelle to help Stars for Cars, a charity organized by 14-year-old Jake Gallin. He’s been raising money to help military families since 2011 by selling magnetic star decals people can put on their cars. Ryan Hatch has more on today’s HOPE Week event. I’m sure there will be video during tonight’s game broadcast.

As for the Yankees on the field … gosh, do I have to talk about them? They kinda stink. Well, not kinda. They do stink. Only the Rays, Athletics, and Twins have worse records in the AL. The Yankees have lost eight of their last 12 games overall. That’s come immediately after an 8-2 stretch. Blah. Here is the Angels’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

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

The weather has been very nice in New York today. It’s a little cloudy but warm and breezy. Pretty nice night for a ballgame. Tonight’s series opener with the Angels will begin a little after 7pm ET. You can watch on YES. Enjoy.

2016 Draft: Joey Wentz

Joey Wentz | LHP

Background
Wentz, 18, attends Shawnee Mission East High School in the Kansas City suburbs. He spent last summer participating in showcases as a first baseman because he was dealing with a dead arm period. Wentz returned to the mound this spring and has been healthy. He’s committed to attend Virginia in the fall.

Scouting Report
As a hitter, Wentz has easy power and a sweet swing from the left side of the plate. He’s only played first base but is considered athletic enough to give the outfield a try. Most agree Wentz has much higher upside on the mound, however. At his best he’ll sit in the 91-95 mph range and touch 97, though it’s worth noting he’s been unable to hold that velocity all spring and has spent the last few weeks in the 88-91 mph range. That’s kinda scary after last summer’s dead arm. A big-breaking upper-70s curveball and promising changeup round out his repertoire. There’s hope that at 6-foot-5 and 210 lbs., Wentz will add velocity and answer questions about his durability.

Miscellany
In their most recent rankings MLB.com, Keith Law (subs. req’d), and Baseball America ranked Wentz as the 16th, 22nd, and 26th best prospect in the draft class, respectively. The Yankees pick 18th. Before the recent velocity dip there was talk Wentz would be a top ten pick because hey, lefties who touch 97 and have three pitches are hot commodities. Ultimately, it’s going to depend on which team feels most comfortable with him physically after the dead arm and velocity loss. I suppose Wentz could always fall back on being a first baseman (or outfielder), but that’s a backup plan no one wants to use.

6/6 to 6/9 Series Preview: Los Angeles Angels

Mike Scioscia

That long ten-game, four-city road trip is finally over. The Yankees are now back home for a seven-game homestand that wraps up this long 41 games in 40 days stretch. It’s been a grind. Even for fans, I think. The Angels are in the Bronx for four games this week. This is the first meeting of the season between these two teams.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Halos erased a 4-1 deficit in the late innings yesterday to earn a 5-4 win over the Pirates in Pittsburgh. They took two of three over the weekend and have the same 26-30 record as the Yankees. The Angels have the better run differential though: -11 to -31. You win this round, Billy Eppler.

Offense & Defense

When I looked over the roster before the season, I wondering how in the world the Angels would score runs. They’ve actually been pretty respectable offensively, averaging 4.36 runs per game with a team 100 wRC+. As a team the Halos have the lowest strikeout rate (15.8%) and third highest contact rate (81.6%) in baseball, so they’re going to put the ball in play. Then again, the Yankees have the fifth lowest strikeout rate (19.2%) and second highest contact rate (81.7%), so maybe they’re not the most predictive thing in the world.

You know who this is, right? Right. (Justin Berl/Getty)
You know who this is, right? Right. (Getty)

The Angels have a laundry list of players on the DL at the moment, most notably SS Andrelton Simmons (45 wRC+). He tore a thumb ligament a few weeks back and is expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment today. Needless to say, Simmons won’t be back this series. The left field platoon of OF Daniel Nava (70 wRC+) and OF Craig Gentry (22 wRC+) are out with lumbar and groin problems, respectively. Backup C Geovany Soto (128 wRC+) and backup IF Cliff Pennington (109 wRC+) are on the shelf too. Crazy.

Anyway, manager Mike Scioscia still has CF Mike Trout (164 wRC+) to anchor his lineup, and once again Trout is having an out-of-this world season. He’s so, so good. So good. 3B Yunel Escobar (120 wRC+) and RF Kole Calhoun (138 wRC+) bat first and second ahead of Trout while 1B/DH Albert Pujols (107 wRC+) cleans up. 1B/DH C.J. Cron (93 wRC+) and 2B Johnny Giavotella (82 wRC+) typically hit fifth and sixth in some order.

With Simmons hurt, ex-Yankees IF Brendan Ryan (-100 wRC+) and IF Gregorio Petit (74 wRC+) are sharing time at shortstop. OF Shane Robinson (104 wRC+) and OF Rafael Ortega (65 wRC+) handle left field. C Carlos Perez (55 wRC+) is the starting backstop with C Jeff Bandy (97 wRC+) backing him up. IF Jefry Marte (218 wRC+) is the other bench player. The Halos have good to great defenders all over the field. Their worst defender is probably Pujols or Cron, whoever happens to be at first base that day.

Pitching Probables

Monday (7:05pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. LAA) vs. RHP Matt Shoemaker (vs. NYY)
Two years ago Shoemaker finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting behind Jose Abreu. Last year he had a 4.46 ERA (4.59 FIP) and missed time with a forearm injury. This year Shoemaker has 5.50 ERA (3.58 FIP) in ten starts and 52.1 innings, which earned him a brief demotion to Triple-A. Look at the numbers and you’ll think he’s stunk, but they don’t tell the whole story. The 29-year-old allowed 26 runs with 17 strikeouts in his first six starts and 24.2 innings. In his last four starts he’s allowed seven runs with 36 strikeouts in 27.2 innings. What changed? His pitch selection (via Brooks Baseball):

Matt Shoemaker pitch selection

Almost half of Shoemaker’s pitches have been splitters over those last four starts. Hey, when you spend parts of five seasons in Triple-A before finally getting a chance at the Major League level, you’re going to do whatever it takes to stay there, and in this case it means throwing your best pitch a frickin’ ton. Shoemaker sets the splitter up with low-90s four-seamers and sinkers — I guess the splitter sets up the fastballs at this point, right? — and he also throws a low-80s slider. These days he doesn’t bother with his upper-70s curveball. We’ll see how the Yankees approach Shoemaker now that he’s throwing all those splitters. It’s a tough pitch to combat.

Tuesday (7:05pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. LAA) vs. TBA
The Angels have nearly a full rotation on the DL at the moment. Garrett Richards (elbow), Andrew Heaney (elbow), C.J. Wilson (shoulder), and Nick Tropeano (shoulder) are all out. Richards and Heaney are currently trying to rehab partially torn elbow ligaments and avoid Tommy John surgery a la Tanaka. Tropeano hit the DL over the weekend and this was supposed to be his start, and the Angels still haven’t announced his replacement. They’ve given zero indication who will get the ball instead. It won’t be Tim Lincecum, who signed a free agent a deal a few weeks back. Scioscia confirmed he’ll make at least one more Triple-A tune-up start before joining the team. Scioscia seemed to indicate the Angels might go with a bullpen game tomorrow. It’s a big mystery for now.

Wednesday (7:05pm ET): RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. LAA) vs. RHP Jered Weaver (vs. NYY)
Weaver, who is somehow only 33, has a 5.18 ERA (5.59 FIP) in eleven starts and 64.1 innings so far this season, and about the only thing he does well is limit walks (5.7%). He doesn’t strike anyone out (14.3%), doesn’t get grounders (29.4%), and doesn’t keep the ball in the park (1.96 HR/9). His platoon split is small but only because both righties and lefties hit him hard. Weaver’s fastball is averaging 83.1 mph this year, which is bonkers. Only knuckleballers R.A. Dickey and Steven Wright have slower average fastballs this year. Doug Fister has the next slowest heater among non-knucklers at 86.6 mph, so we’re talking about a gap of 3.5 mph between Weaver and the next slowest fastball. Yeesh. His kitchen sink approach includes low-80s sinkers, mid-70s changeups and sliders, and an upper-60s curveball. Everything is slow. It’s a different look for sure. Doesn’t seem to be working much for Weaver this year though.

Not Jeff. (Stephen Dunn/Getty)
Not Jeff. (Stephen Dunn/Getty)

Thursday (7:05pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. LAA) vs. RHP Jhoulys Chacin (vs. NYY)
The Angels picked up the veteran Chacin from the Braves in a minor trade a few weeks ago simply because they needed another warm body for the rotation. The 28-year-old has made ten starts and thrown 58 innings this year overall, and he has a 4.50 ERA (4.02 FIP) in those 58 innings. He’s always been a heavy ground ball pitcher (52.9%) thanks to his trademark low-90s sinker. His strikeout (19.4%), walk (7.3%), and homer (1.09 HR/9) numbers are middling at best, and weirdly enough, he’s been more effective against righties than lefties. That not typical. Chacin backs up his sinker with upper-80s cutters, mid-80s changeups, low-80s sliders, and upper-80s curveballs. He throws everything too. Chacin is a true five-pitch pitcher.

Bullpen Status

Injuries have struck the bullpen too. The Angels only recently welcomed closer RHP Huston Street back from an oblique injury that cost him six weeks. Setup man RHP Joe Smith is now nursing a hamstring problem that may land him on the DL. Here is Scioscia’s relief crew at the moment:

Closer: RHP Huston Street (0.90 ERA/4.82 FIP)
Setup: RHP Joe Smith (3.91/5.21)
Middle: LHP Jose Alvarez (4.23/3.01), RHP Cam Bedrosian (1.96/2.58), RHP Javy Guerra (5.68/7.70), LHP Greg Mahle (4.24/4.95), RHP Fernando Salas (3.76/4.11)
Long: RHP Deolis Guerra (5.14/1.12)

If Smith is not placed on the DL, someone will have to go down to make room for tomorrow’s spot starter. (Assuming it’s not a bullpen game.) One of the Guerras seems most likely given a) the fact they both threw 28 pitches yesterday, and b) the team’s transactions over the first two months of the season. Alvarez (17 pitches) and Street (14 pitches) both pitched yesterday too.

You can check up on the status of the Yankees bullpen with out Bullpen Workload page and boy, it’s not pretty. Joe Girardi has really worked the guys hard the last few days. Tonight would be a good night for Tanaka to pitch very deep into the game. That and the offense scoring a lot of runs.

Rosenthal: Giants mulling over a run at Andrew Miller

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Giants have internally discussed making a run at Yankees southpaw Andrew Miller. I’m sure 28 other teams have considered pursuing Miller as well, though the Giants definitely stand out as a realistic suitor because they’re very good — they’re 35-23 and 3.5 games up in the NL West — and have a clear need in the bullpen. Makes total sense.

We still have no idea whether the Yankees will actually sell at the trade deadline — Jon Heyman says the higher ups held a conference call yesterday and decided it’s still too early to start selling off pieces, for what it’s worth — but they did listen to offers for Miller over the winter, so I assume they’ll do so again this summer. It never hurts to listen, after all. Miller is extremely valuable for many reasons. He’s dominant, he’s signed through 2018 at a below market salary, and he’s willing to accept any role. Miller is pretty, pretty awesome. I have a few thoughts on this.

1. What can the Giants offer for Miller? This is where it gets tricky. It seems unlikely the Giants will part with anyone from their Major League roster to get Miller. They want to add to their roster, not subtract from it. That leaves prospects, and well, San Francisco’s system kinda stinks. Baseball America ranked their system 19th in baseball before the season, and that was before many of their top prospects took a step back. (Here is their MLB.com top 30 prospects list.)

Shortstop Christian Arroyo hasn’t hit much at Double-A, righty Tyler Beede’s stuff has backed up and he no longer misses bats, and righty Phil Bickford continues to project as a reliever more than a starter. That isn’t to say those guys are bad prospects. They’re not. It’s just that the Yankees wouldn’t be getting back that slam dunk high-end talent they crave. Remember, they asked the Astros for Lance McCullers Jr. and Vincent Velasquez over the winter.

The Yankees want a top young player who is MLB ready — really, they want multiple top young players for Miller — and that is totally reasonable. Look at what Craig Kimbrel and Ken Giles fetched over the winter. Miller is every bit as good as those two if not better. He doesn’t offer as many years of control as Giles, but he’s cheaper than Kimbrel. The Yankees have set a high price and that’s exactly what they should do. They’re not being unrealistic.

2. The Yankees must create a bidding war. This goes without saying. Every contending team is going to want Miller. The Giants, Mets, Nationals, Rangers, Cubs, Dodgers, White Sox, Mariners, heck, the Red Sox too. I can’t see the Yankees trading Miller to Boston but I’m sure the Sox would happily take him. Even non-contenders will take Miller because he’s signed through 2018. You might not contend this year, but what about next year and the year after? (That’s a reason for the Yankees to keep him too, right?)

The Yankees not only have an opportunity to field multiple offers for Miller, but they’ll be in position to leverage rivals against each other. The Dodgers and Giants will be involved. So will the Mets and Nationals. The Mariners and Rangers too. It’s the perfect storm of trade value. Miller is awesome and everyone is going to want him. It’s a dream scenario for the Yankees. No other team can offer a reliever as good as Miller at the trade deadline so they control the market. This is an opportunity to net a huge return.

3. Take the best talent, don’t try to fill specific needs. I’m of the belief that when you trade someone as valuable as Miller, even a reliever, the goal should be to acquire the most talent regardless of position. The Yankees need pitching and a long-term third base solution, though they shouldn’t have tunnel vision. If the best offer is, say, a shortstop and an outfielder, take it. The Yankees aren’t in position to pick and choose here. They need to accumulate talent all over the diamond then sort it out later. The goal should be maximizing the return, not addressing needs. This isn’t your run of the mill “we need to plug a hole” trade.

* * *

The Giants are only the first team we’re hearing that has considered making a run at Miller. They won’t be the last. The Yankees continue to fade in the standings — their postseason odds are down to 11.8% according to FanGraphs — and they haven’t given us much reason to expect them to improve going forward. I don’t think there’s a Yankee fan who dislikes Miller. No one wants to see him go. The team needs young talent though, and the best way to add a lot of young talent in a short amount of time is trading Miller.

Yankeemetrics: Buried in Baltimore [June 2-5]

#TrueYankee (AP Photo)
#TrueYankee (AP Photo)

Refsnyder to the Rescue
The Yankees halted their mini-three-game skid with a 5-4 win against the Tigers on Thursday night. If not for Rob Refsnyder, the mood on the Yankees flight from Detroit to Baltimore would have been remarkably different.

Refsnyder played a starring role in the biggest moments of the game, starting with his leadoff double in the sixth inning which broke up Matt Boyd’s unlikely no-hit bid. The 25-year-old went on to score the tying run two batters later on Jacoby Ellsbury‘s sacrifice fly, and then two frames later, he delivered a tie-breaking RBI single to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.

It was Refsnyder’s first career go-ahead RBI, and the first go-ahead RBI in the seventh inning or later by a Yankee second baseman against the Tigers since Alfonso Soriano on June 1, 2003.

Refsnyder’s heroics might have stolen the headlines, but it was Michael Pineda‘s strong bounceback performance on the mound that made sure the Yankees had a chance to win this game. Pineda entered Thursday with the league’s highest ERA among qualified pitchers (6.92), and in his previous four starts had surrendered a whopping 20 earned runs and 30 hits in 20 1/3 innings.

So, of course, Pineda pitched his best game of the season, allowing one run in 5 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts and no walks. He dominated the Tigers lineup with his wipeout slider, which generated 14 whiffs on 22 swings, a season-best 64 percent whiff rate for the pitch. Per Statcast data, Pineda now has 97 total swings-and-misses on his slider this season, second only to Clayton Kershaw among all major-league pitchers.

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

A trip to the (Not) Charm City
Baltimore has mostly been a miserable place for the Yankees in recent years — they entered this series with a 9-22 record at Camden Yards since 2013, their worst mark at any AL ballpark — and did little to reverse that trend in the series opener.

On a day when the Yankee bats surprisingly came alive, it was their recently-excellent starting pitching and normally-lockdown bullpen that struggled in Friday night’s frustrating 6-5 loss.

Nathan Eovaldi, 5-0 with a 2.03 ERA in his previous five starts, was charged with five runs in 5 1/3 innings; the mortal version of Dellin Betances coughed up the game-winning run in the seventh.

A-Rod and Carlos Beltran did their part in sparking the offense with homers in consecutive at-bats in the fourth inning. They are just the third pair of teammates aged 39 or older to hit back-to-back home runs in major-league history. The others were Ted Williams and Mickey Vernon for the Red Sox on Sept. 21, 1957 and Jeff Kent and Luis Gonzalez for the Dodgers on April 29, 2007.

A-Rod breaks out
The Yankees used another unlikely offensive outburst — yes, it was unlikely for a team that began the weekend with the lowest batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage in the AL — to beat the Orioles, 8-6, on Saturday night. They piled up 16 hits, their most hits in a game at Camden Yards since Sept. 2, 2009.

A-Rod had his second three-hit game of the season and it was his RBI single in the ninth inning that might have been his most notable swing of the night. Vance Worley threw a two-strike slider that A-Rod sliced up the middle to score Aaron Hicks from second base. That was his first hit off a breaking pitch this season; he was 0-for-17 with nine strikeouts in at-bats ending in a curve or slider before that hit.

Jacoby Ellsbury scored the seventh run of the game on a well-executed double steal with Brett Gardner. It was the second time in 2016 that Ellsbury has stolen home, joining Chris Chambliss in 1977 as the only Yankees in the last 60 years with two steals of home in a single season.

The worst rain delay ever
For the second time in three games, the Yankees snatched defeat from the arms of victory. They had a 1-0 advantage in the eighth inning, and after sitting through a one-hour-and-37-minute rain delay, they blew the lead and suffered yet another brutal loss.

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)
This one was different from the others, though equally gut-wrenching. For the first time this season, the Yankees lost a game when taking a lead into the eighth inning; they’re now 25-1 in that situation.

It also clinched their eighth straight series loss in Baltimore, a wholly depressing and unprecedented streak. This is the first time that the Yankees have dropped eight series on the road in the history of this rivalry, which dates back to 1903, including when the Orioles were the St. Louis Browns.

Moving on to more positive notes … CC Sabathia turned in another stellar, though inefficient, effort with just two hits allowed in five scoreless innings. He needed 111 pitches to get those 15 outs, because of several long at-bats and a career-high-tying six walks.

The last Yankee pitcher to walk at least six guys and not give up a run was A.J. Burnett on Aug. 7, 2009 against the Red Sox. (That was the 15th inning A-Rod walk-off homer game.) Ya know, sometimes you can predict baseball.

Sabathia has now pitched at least five innings and given up no more than three runs in each of his last nine road starts, the longest such streak by a Yankee pitcher since Ron Guidry had nine starts in a row like that spanning the 1977 and 1978 seasons.