Heyman: Brian McCann clears trade waivers

(Getty)
(Getty)

According to Jon Heyman, Brian McCann has cleared trade waivers. That means he can now be traded to any other team the rest of the season. Obligatory reminder: pretty much every player will be placed on trade waivers this month. Who clears is not terribly interesting. It’s who doesn’t clear that stands out.

Anyway, the Yankees reportedly listened to offers for McCann prior to the trade deadline, and supposedly the Braves showed interest. I guess they want a veteran catcher who can work with all those young pitchers they’ve acquired as part of their rebuild. McCann is hitting .231/.330/.413 (100 wRC+) with 15 homers this season and remains one of the most productive backstops in the game. I have some thoughts on this.

1. The Yankees will likely continue to explore trades. The Yankees solid at the trade deadline. Legitimately sold. They traded away three of their very best players (and Ivan Nova) for a boatload of prospects. It only makes sense to continue exploring trades involving veteran players in August, and not just McCann. Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi … pretty much everyone.

The Yankees called up Gary Sanchez this week and gave him two starts behind the plate within the last few days. In fact, McCann hasn’t caught a game since Thursday. He’s spent the last three games at DH. The Yankees seem committed to giving their young players a chance down the stretch, and that includes giving Sanchez plenty of starts behind the plate. Save McCann some wear and tear and get a look at Sanchez. It’s a win-win.

Sanchez is, without question, the future behind the plate. At least that’s the plan. Giving him a year as an apprentice under McCann a la Joe Girardi and Jorge Posada back in the day would make sense, though I don’t think it’s imperative. Austin Romine is a decent enough backup option, and Kyle Higashioka’s emergence gives the team extra depth. Besides, the Yankees could always trade McCann and then sign a veteran free agent catcher to mentor Sanchez.

2. What’s a fair price? This is the sticking point. Reportedly the Braves wanted the Yankees to eat a bunch of the $34M owed to McCann the next two years while giving up minimal prospects. I mean, that’s what every teams wants to do with every trade. The Yankees held out for quality prospects and I don’t blame them at all. McCann’s a valuable player, and even with the Yankees in transition, keeping him makes sense, Sanchez or no Sanchez.

I thought the Yankees did really well with their deadline trades, though I’m not sure if that’s because I have a poor read on the market, or because Brian Cashman is just that good. Probably a little of both. I’d want a package with at least one really good prospect for McCann, something along the lines of the Carlos Beltran trade. He’s too productive to give away or salary dump. This isn’t a “must trade” situation. The Yankees have plenty of leverage and can ask for a big return.

3. Eating money is on the table. Prior to the deadline all we heard was the Yankees were not willing to eat money to make trades, and then bam, they ate money to trade Beltran. I imagine eating money to move McCann — they ate some cash in the Martin Prado/Eovaldi deal too — is something they would consider as well. Assuming the other team gives them more in return, of course. That’s how this works.

McCann is pretty expensive by catcher standards — only Buster Posey ($18.6M) has a contract with a higher average annual salary than McCann ($17M) among catchers — and I’m not sure how many teams are willing to commit big bucks to a 32-year-old catcher with all that mileage. Eating money may be the only way for the Yankees to get the kind of return they seek. After taking on salary to trade Beltran, I’m sure they’d be willing to do with McCann as well.

Yankeemetrics: Surprising news, big wins [Aug. 5-7]

(AP)
(AP)

Tribute to Teix
The first stunning news conference of the weekend came just a couple hours before the opening game of this Yankees-Indians series, when Mark Teixeira announced that he will retire at the end of the 2016 season.

One of the defining numbers of Teixeira’s legacy is his unprecedented combination of power and defense, at a position where most players either excel in one of those two tools, but rarely both. Teixeira is the only first baseman with at least five Gold Gloves (awarded since 1957) and at least 400 homers.

Teixeira was also unique in that he produced at a high level right out the gate as a rookie, and showed impressive consistency during the prime years of his career. He reached the 25-homer mark in each of his first nine career seasons (2003-11), one of four players in major-league history to do that: Darryl Strawberry, Albert Pujols and Eddie Mathews are the others.

The next season he hit 38 homers and drove in 112 runs, kicking off an incredible eight-year run of 30-plus homers and 100-plus RBI. Among players that played at least 50 percent of their games at first base during the season, the only other guys to match that streak are Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx.

Teixeira was in the Bronx for less than a decade, but he still has a place alongside the all-time great first basemen to wear the pinstripes. He is one of three Yankee first baseman to compile at least 200 homers and 800 hits with the franchise. You might have heard of the others: Don Mattingly and Lou Gehrig.

Just hours after Teixeira’s emotional announcement, the Yankees took the field and produced one of their finest offensive performances of the season in routing the AL Central-leading Indians, 13-7.

Starlin Castro delivered the biggest blow of the game with his first career grand slam in the third inning. Thanks to that blast, Castro upped his batting average with the bases loaded this season to .429 (6-for-14 plus a sac fly), the second-highest in the majors among players with at least 15 plate appearances through Friday.

(Getty)
(Getty)

The letdown
The Yankees rollercoaster-like offense continued its up-and-down path, while another so-so performance from their starting pitcher doomed them in a 5-2 loss to the Indians on Saturday afternoon

Since the calendar flipped to August (and through Saturday), the Yankees game-by-game run totals have been as follows: 6, 1, 9, 1, 13, 2. For the season, that’s 44 games with two or fewer runs scored, by far the most among AL teams (no one else in the league even has 40 such games).

CC Sabathia retired the first 10 batters faced, but once again was victimized by the longball, giving up solo shots to Jason Kipnis in the fourth and Mike Napoli in the sixth inning. This was the third straight start that Sabathia has given up multiple homers, the first time in his career he’s done that.

After a shaky second inning during which he coughed up two runs, Corey Kluber dominated the Yankee lineup the rest of the way, facing the minimum number of batters over his final six innings while striking out eight batters. It was his third straight win over the Yankees, and in each of those games he’s given up no more than two runs and gotten at least eight strikeouts.

Only four other players in major-league history have fashioned such a streak — three straight games pitched with a win, eight-plus strikeouts and two or fewer runs allowed — versus the Yankees: Felix Hernandez (2010), Pedro Martinez (1999-00), Bob Feller (1946) and Lefty Grove (1926).

(Reuters)
(Reuters)

An A-bomb from A-Rod
For the second time in three days a shocking off-field news item grabbed the headlines in Yankeeland. Just hours before Sunday’s series finale, Alex Rodriguez and the team announced that the 41-year-old would play his final game on August 12 and then join the front office in a special advisor/instructor role.

A-Rod might be one of the most complicated and polarizing figures in baseball, but it’s hard to ignore his staggering (though tainted) statistical pedigree. He’s compiled numerous historic feats during his 22-season career, but most notably, he arguably possessed the best power/speed/run-producing combo tool of any hitter.

His 11 seasons of at least 100 RBI, 30 homers and 15 steals are the most all-time (and four more than anyone else), and he is the only player in major-league history with at least 2,000 RBI, 500 homers and 300 steals in a career.

Most people would agree that A-Rod’s signature moment in pinstripes was his incredible production during the Yankees’ 2009 World Series run. He hit .365/.500/.808 with six homers and 18 RBI, putting together one of the greatest single-postseason hitting lines in franchise history.

Among Yankees with at least 25 at-bats in a postseason, his 1.308 OPS ranks third behind only Mickey Mantle in 1960 (1.345) and Reggie Jackson in 1978 (1.315). Additionally, he is the only Yankee with more than five homers and more than 15 RBI in a single postseason.

There was still a game to be played after A-Rod’s announcement, and the Yankees once again rode the momentum of yet another tearful and emotional press conference, beating the Indians 3-2.

Masahiro Tanaka was masterful on the mound, scattering six hits across six innings while striking out eight and allowing just one run. He is now 5-1 with a 2.07 ERA in 10 starts following a Yankee loss. Among MLB pitchers with at least nine such starts this season, only Jacob deGrom (1.99) has a better ERA than Tanaka.

Tanaka’s final strikeout — the result of winning a 12-pitch battle with Lonnie Chisenhall to end the sixth inning — was also the 400th strikeout of his career. The only other Yankee to reach that milestone this early into his major-league career (67th game) was Al Downing.

Thoughts following the Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira retirement news

There are too many things to love about this photo. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
There are too many things to love about this photo. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Yesterday morning Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees announced A-Rod will play his final game this coming Friday, at Yankee Stadium against the Rays. After that he will be released as a player and join the team in what is being called a “special advisor and instructor” role. Oh, and by the way, a few days ago Mark Teixeira announced he will retire at the end of the season. It’s all happening so fast, isn’t it? I have some thoughts on all of this.

1. Make no mistake, A-Rod is being “forced” into retirement. Based on everything we heard at the press conference, it sure seem the Yankees — specifically Hal Steinbrenner — made it clear to Alex they no longer have a spot for him on the roster. That doesn’t mean they gave him an ultimatum, but A-Rod’s not stupid. He knew what his options were. Alex sounded very much like a man who still believes he has some quality baseball left in him during that press conference, and there was this weird disconnect during the whole thing. A-Rod was up there by himself, then Brian Cashman went up, then Joe Girardi went up. They weren’t up there together. It was … weird. You could tell this is not the way A-Rod wants things to play out, but he realizes this is his best option.

2. The Yankees do not owe A-Rod anything and vice versa. The club managed to turn him into a sympathetic figure these last few weeks, but they did not do him wrong. If anything, Hal threw Alex a bone by approaching him about an advisor/instructor role. The Yankees could have easily — and justifiably — released A-Rod and been done with him. They gave him an opportunity to go out with some dignity and grace. The end of a player’s career is rarely pretty, and Rodriguez’s was quickly spiraling towards an ugly end. The Yankees gave him an opportunity to avoid that.

3. All of this was, without question, a big distraction. Girardi was getting asked about A-Rod before and after every single game, and you could tell it was wearing on him. How could it not? The same questions, day after day after day. Other players on the team were being asked about it, the front office and ownership had to have it on their minds constantly, the announcers were talking about it … it wasn’t pleasant. Benching A-Rod became a very big thing. I don’t know what kind of effect it had on the other players and their performance, but I know it bothered me watching as a fan, and I’m sure I’m not alone. This was a very awkward situation that I don’t think anyone enjoyed.

4. The A-Rod stuff is very bittersweet. I love A-Rod and have greatly enjoyed watching him these last 12 years. He’s one of my all-time favorite Yankees and I’m sad to see him go. At the same time, the Yankees are better off without Alex at this point of his career, so I’m glad he’s gone. It’s a weird feeling. Different than when Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, and Bernie Williams retired. I can’t explain it. With those five, it was time for them to retire. I almost feel like A-Rod is being ripped away from me. I’m going to miss watching him. I’m also exciting about the direction the Yankees are heading without him.

5. My one simple request: play Alex every game this week. I’d like to see him start all three games at Fenway Park in addition to Friday’s game against the Rays. It would be the coolest thing ever if he got to play third base Friday, but I’m not going to hold my breath. A-Rod is four homers away from 700 for his career (700!) and I’d like to see him get as many at-bats as possible to try to get there. He’s already hit two homers at Fenway this season, after all. (Plus the Red Sox’s pitching staff is hilaribad.) The man is motivated and I want to watch him play during his final week in the big leagues, not sit on the bench.

Sock just one more dinger, Al. Please. (Adam Glanzman/Getty)
Sock just one more dinger, Al. Please. (Adam Glanzman/Getty)

6. No one thinks another team is actually going to sign A-Rod, right? I’ve seen a few people talking about the possibility, but who wants a DH who can’t hit? No one signed Barry Bonds back in the day when he was coming off a very productive year. I see two possibilities and they’re both long shots: the Rays and Marlins. The Rays could use a DH and, if nothing else, signing A-Rod will generate some buzz and sell a few more tickets. As for the Marlins, well, owner Jeffrey Loria has a history of making moves geared towards headlines, and A-Rod would definitely qualify. Martin Prado just got hurt yesterday, so hey, they need a third baseman now. I just can’t see it happening. Alex is persona non grata around the league.

7. I’m intrigued by the special advisor/instructor role. A-Rod said he’s going home to Miami after Friday’s game and will begin his new role in Spring Training, so he won’t immediately jump right into it. (He did also say he’ll help whenever the Yankees ask, even later this year.) By all accounts A-Rod is great with young players and we know he has a lot of knowledge to give, and boy do the Yankees have a lot of talented young players on the way. He can work with their young shortstops, including Gleyber Torres and Jorge Mateo, not to mention their potential sluggers like Clint Frazier and Aaron Judge. Rodriguez could be a real asset in a role like that. I hope the Yankees take advantage of having him on the staff these next few months.

8. Rodriguez is truly one of the greatest and most talented players in baseball history, and he has a slam dunk first ballot Hall of Fame resume. He’s in the inner circle of the inner circle. Will A-Rod actually get into the Hall of Fame? Right now my gut says no. Roger Clemens and Bonds aren’t close to getting in and we have far more evidence A-Rod used performance-enhancing drugs than those two, so yeah. The odds are stacked against him. That doesn’t change the fact Alex was the greatest ballplayer whose career I got to see from start to finish. (I was too young to understand how good Bonds was in the 1980s.) It’s going to be a very very very long time until we see someone seriously threaten 700 homers and +120 WAR again. Those kinds of numbers. At his peak, A-Rod was the perfect baseball player. Talented, instinctual, fundamentally sound, durable … he was the total package. What a joy it was to watch this man day after day.

9. The question on everyone’s mind: who takes A-Rod’s spot on the roster? The Yankees have plenty of open 40-man roster space — they have three open spots right now and will get a fourth once Alex is gone — so that’s not an issue. I think it’s between either Tyler Austin or Aaron Judge, and right now I think it’ll be Austin. Judge just missed a month with a knee injury, and while he hasn’t missed a beat since returning, it’s still not a bad idea to give him a few more at-bats in Triple-A to get up to speed. Austin can play first base, right field, and DH, so it’ll be much easier to get him into the lineup right away. Like it or not, the Yankees still seem committed to letting Aaron Hicks play as much as possible, and that will cut into Judge’s playing time. So my guess is Austin comes up for A-Rod, then Judge comes up once rosters expand in September.

10. I don’t have much to say about Teixeira retiring, I guess because a) I didn’t get as attached to him as I did A-Rod, and b) I was expecting him to be gone after the season anyway. Not retired, but gone as a free agent, so really, nothing has changed. Like I said before, I feel like Alex is being ripped away. Teixeira was a very good two-way player for the Yankees for a long time whose biggest problem was injuries the last few years. The Yankees are going to find guys to hit homers and things like that, but they’ll miss Teixeira’s defense. It remains world class even at age 36. Teixeira is still the guy I want the ball hit to with a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth in Game Seven of the World Series. Was his contract worth it? Oh yeah. Absolutely in my opinion. He was a key part of the most Yankees’ most recent championship team and he was a total pro who played hard every day. Teixeira got hurt and that stinks. I never once doubted his effort or commitment to the Yankees.

11. Teixeira called the Yankees a “team in transition” during his press conference and that has stuck with me. I mean, we all knew it was true, but to hear one of the team’s key veteran leaders say that was a bit different. The players are all aware of what’s going on now. These last two weeks have totally changed the direction of the franchise. The Yankees sold at the deadline and two longtime cornerstone players are getting ready to call it a career. That’s a lot of change in a very short period of time! It’s exciting! And also sorta scary! There’s comfort in familiarity and none of this is familiar to a large segment of Yankees fans, myself included. I definitely remember the Yankees being bad back in the early-1990s. I just didn’t fully grasp the inner workings of the team at the time. I’m sad to see A-Rod go and I’m sad to see Teixeira go. I’m also ready to embrace this “team in transition” and see where it leads next.

Fan Confidence Poll: August 8th, 2016

Record Last Week: 4-3 (35 RS, 35 RA)
Season Record: 56-55 (454 RS, 487 RA, 52-59 pythag. record), 5.0 GB of postseason spot
Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, @ Red Sox (three games, Tues. to Thurs.), vs. Rays (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

DotF: Judge’s grand slam helps Scranton to another win

Triple-A Scranton (5-0 win over Syracuse) one day after beating up Nationals RHP Lucas Giolito, they worked over Nationals RHP Reynaldo Lopez (6 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 6 K), another one of the top pitching prospects in baseball

  • DH Ben Gamel: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB
  • RF Clint Frazier: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K
  • LF Aaron Judge: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 K — Shane Hennigan has video of the grand slam he hit off Lopez … Hennigan says Judge made a great leaping catch in left too
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 0-4, 2 K, 1 PB
  • 1B Chris Parmelee: 1-2, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI — played five innings in his first rehab game in the field
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 0-1
  • CF Jake Cave: 1-3, 1 2B
  • LHP Jordan Montgomery: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 7/3 GB/FB — 63 of 97 pitches were strikes (65%) … he’s not going to be an ace or anything, but Montgomery definitely has a chance to help the Yankees in some capacity, maybe as a lefty David Phelps type
  • LHP Phil Coke: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2 HB, 0/2 GB/FB — 20 of 35 pitches were strikes (57%)
  • RHP Ben Heller: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — eight pitches, six strikes … 52/13 K/BB in 45 total innings this season

[Read more…]

Yankees, Tanaka hang on for 3-2 win over Indians


Source: FanGraphs

Is it too late to join #TeamBuy? The Yankees took yet another series from the first place Indians this weekend, beating the Tribe 3-2 in Sunday afternoon’s series finale. They also won three of four in Cleveland prior to the All-Star break. It’s Sunday and I’ve been busy all day, so let’s go with bullet points:

  • Bounceback Start: Last time out Masahiro Tanaka allowed a career-high seven runs in 6.1 innings. He rebounding with six strong innings Sunday, holding the Indians to one run on six hits and no walks while striking out a season-high eight. It would have been six scoreless had Joe Girardi not gone batter-to-batter with him in the seventh. (Tanaka allowed a first pitch double.) Nice work, Masahiro.
  • One Run, Three Times: The Yankees scored a first inning run on Brett Gardner‘s triple and Jacoby Ellsbury‘s sac fly. They scored a fourth inning run on Didi Gregorius‘ solo homer into the short porch. They then scored a fifth inning run thanks to a two-out walk (Ellsbury) and a double (Mark Teixeira). A deliberately built lead, that was. The final ten Yankees to bat made outs. I hate that.
  • Some Runs … WCD? For the first time since coming back, Adam Warren had a shaky outing. He allowed Tanaka’s inherited runner to score on a single, then needed Teixeira to bail him out with a great stop on a ball hit hard down the line. That would have almost certainly tied the game had it gotten by Teixeira. Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances conspired to allow a run in the eighth. A walk, a steal, an error, and a wild pitch did the trick. Betances then pitched around a leadoff single in the ninth for his second save.
  • Leftovers: The Yankees only had five hits: Gardner (triple), Ellsbury (single), Teixeira (double), Gregorius (homer), and Rob Refsnyder (single) … Ellsbury and Brian McCann drew the walks … Refsnyder, Gregorius, and Austin Romine all made errors … the Yankees have alternated wins and losses since the trade deadline.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. We also have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees have an off-day Monday, then they’ll head up to Boston for three games with the Red Sox. Luis Severino makes his return to the rotation in Tuesday night’s opener. He’ll be opposed by Rick Porcello.

Sunday Open Thread

Here’s an open thread for the rest of the weekend. There is no Sunday Night Baseball game on ESPN tonight. There’s a preseason football game instead. (Already?) The Dodgers and Red Sox are playing at 7pm ET on MLB Network though (McCarthy vs. Price). Talk about whatever right here.