Via Carrie Muskat: The Cubs have claimed outfielder Thomas Neal off waivers from the Yankees. New York designated him for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster for Curtis Granderson, who was activated off the 60-day DL last week.
Neal, 25, hit .323/.390/.412 (127 wRC+) with two homers in 292 plate appearances for Triple-A Scranton this year. He also appeared in four games with the big league team, going 2-for-11 (.182) with a walk and a hit-by-pitch (.308 OBP). With Granderson healthy and Alfonso Soriano in the fold, the Yankees have plenty of outfield depth. Neal’s a very limited player (no power, speed, or defense) they’re unlikely to miss. · (8) ·
This has already been a very weird yet historic day in baseball. The announcement of the 13 Biogenesis-related suspensions will be one of those things people talk about for years, as well Alex Rodriguez‘s record 211-game suspension. The only longer suspensions in history were the lifetime bans handed to Pete Rose and the various 1919 Black Sox players. That’s it.
And yet, A-Rod will play in tonight’s game, his first of the 2013 season. The appeals process is an amazing thing. The hip surgery is in the past, the quad problem is in the past, the suspension announcement is in the past … now we can focus on baseball for a few hours. The Yankees have gotten the absolute worst production in baseball from their third baseman this year, so even a hobbled, diminished, and shamed A-Rod figures to improve the team quite a bit. It’s crazy to think that after all this nonsense, the Yankees are a better team right now than they were when they woke up this morning. Baseball is weird sometimes.
Here’s the lineup that will face former Yankees farmhand and left-hander Jose Quintana. Fittingly, he was suspended for the entire 2007 season in the minors for PED use:
- CF Brett Gardner
- DH Alfonso Soriano
- 2B Robinson Cano
- 3B Alex Rodriguez
- 1B Vernon Wells – yep, first base … because this day wasn’t weird enough
- LF Curtis Granderson
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- SS Eduardo Nunez
- C Chris Stewart — phew, I was worried Austin Romine would play again
And on the mound is left-hander Andy Pettitte. He, of course, admitted to using human growth hormone while with the Astros a few years ago. This really is a PED kinda day, huh?
It has been raining on-and-off all day in Chicago, but apparently there’s enough of a window to play a full game tonight. Hopefully that’s the case. Let’s just get this over with and go back to business as (mostly) usual. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10pm ET and can be seen on YES. MLB Network will probably cut in for A-Rod’s at-bats live.
The Yankees made a series of roster moves this afternoon, so let’s recap:
- Derek Jeter has been placed on the 15-day DL with his Grade I calf strain. That makes three DL stints this year, or two fewer than the number of games he’s played. The Cap’n correctly said “whole season has been a nightmare” yesterday.
- Alex Rodriguez has been activated off the 60-day DL. Pretty amazing that he received the longest non-lifetime ban in MLB history this afternoon yet will make his season debut tonight. But I was told he would never play again.
- Brent Lillibridge has been designated for assignment to clear both a 25-man and 40-man roster spot for A-Rod. He somehow played eleven games and got 37 plate appearances (1 wRC+) in pinstripes. And yes, that’s a 1 wRC+.
- David Adams has been called up from Triple-A Scranton to help out the bench. He essentially replaces Jeter on the roster. Adams has yet to arrive and meet the team in Chicago, but I’m sure that will happen soon enough.
As expected, Major League Baseball (finally) announced Alex Rodriguez has been suspended for the remainder of 2013 and all of 2014 for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. It’s officially a 211-game suspension, which is basically broken down in a 50-game first-time ban plus 161 games for interfering with the investigation. From the official release:
Rodriguez’s discipline under the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including Testosterone and human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years. Rodriguez’s discipline under the Basic Agreement is for attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner’s investigation. The suspension, which will become effective on Thursday, August 8th, will cover 211 Championship Season games and any 2013 Postseason games in which Rodriguez otherwise would have been eligible to play.
Because he was suspended under the Joint Drug Agreement, A-Rod can file an appeal and play in the meantime. He will do just that, and, in a twisted coincidence, he will make his season debut against the White Sox in Chicago tonight. Here is Alex’s statement:
“I am disappointed with the penalty and intend to appeal and fight this through the process. I am eager to get back on the field and be with my teammates in Chicago tonight. I want to thank my family, friends and fans who have stood by myself through all this.”
And here is what David Cornwell, Rodriguez’s attorney, had to say:
“It is regrettable that the Commissioner’s office has taken this unprecedented action. Major League Baseball has gone well beyond the authority granted to its Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement. Consequently, we will appeal the discipline and pursue all legal remedies available to Alex.”
I wonder if that “all legal remedies available” line is an indication a lawsuit for … something, could be on the way. I guess we’ll find out eventually.
It was rumored Bud Selig would suspend Alex using the integrity clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which would have kept him off the field even during an appeal, but that did not happen. Selig & Co. supposedly decided it would improve their case and better maintain labor peace by sticking with the discipline outlined in the JDA.
Rodriguez has three days to file the appeal, which is why his suspension does not officially begin until Thursday. The hearing must take place within 20 days of the appeal and a ruling must be handed down no later than 25 days after that. Frederic Horowitz will preside over the appeal. He was appointed baseball’s arbitrator last June after MLB fired Shyam Das for overturning Ryan Braun’s suspension. Horowitz can overturn or uphold the suspension, as well as reduce the number of games. This isn’t an either/or thing like salary arbitration.
Rodriguez’s camp insisted they would not discuss a plea agreement in recent weeks. MLB threatened to ban him for life using the integrity clause, but that was apparently nothing more than a bluff. A-Rod insinuated the league and the Yankees were conspiring to keep him off the field during a press conference following a recent minor league rehab game. The team responded with a strongly worded statement:
“We are in full support of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. We also recognize and respect the appeals process. Until the process under the Drug Program is complete, we will have no comment. We are confident that the process outlined in the Drug Program will result in the appropriate resolution of this matter. In the meantime, the Yankees remain focused on playing baseball.
“However, we are compelled to address certain reckless and false allegations concerning the Yankees’ role in this matter. The New York Yankees in no way instituted and/or assisted MLB in the direction of this investigation; or used the investigation as an attempt to avoid its responsibilities under a player contract; or did its medical staff fail to provide the appropriate standard of care to Alex Rodriguez.”
Union head Michael Weiner contacted MLB on A-Rod’s behalf to talk about a settlement on Saturday, but was rebuffed. Alex contacted the team about buying out the four-plus years and $95M or so left on his contract but was told no dice due to the impending investigation and discipline. Weiner, who indicated a legal battle could drag into November or December, left no wiggle room when saying the union will stand behind it’s highest paid player:
“We believe that the Commissioner has not acted appropriately under the Basic Agreement. Mr. Rodriguez knows that the Union, consistent with its history, will defend his rights vigorously. We must revisit the JDA’s confidentiality provisions and consider implementing stricter rules for any breach.”
Players are not paid during drug suspensions, nor does their salary count against the luxury tax. A-Rod’s suspension would cost him approximately $34.2M if it started today, but his contract is front-loaded and his salaries decrease from 2013-2017. The longer the appeal takes and the further the suspension gets pushed back, the less he’ll lose. The Yankees have not been shy about their plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold starting next year, so shedding A-Rod’s $27.5M “tax hit” for all or part of the next few seasons would be a huge boon.
MLB is said to have “mountains” of evidence showing Rodriguez purchased and used performance-enhancing drugs from 2010-2012 with help from former Biogenesis chief Anthony Bosch. There hasn’t been much info on the evidence regarding his attempts to interfere with the investigation, however. Bosch agreed to cooperate with MLB to avoid a lawsuit, though he reportedly tried to extort a six-figure payout from the team’s third baseman first. A-Rod’s army of lawyers will surely look to discredit Bosch.
Considering his age (38), his two surgically repaired hips and overall declining skills, it’s hard to believe Alex will be able to return to the Yankees as a productive player following a lengthy suspension. Thanks to the cash savings, the team would be in a better position to negotiate a buyout of the remainder of his contract after the suspension. Well, it might be easier to swallow, I should say. It’s tough to think the suspension will be anything but a career-ender for A-Rod.
Among the other suspended players is Frankie Cervelli, who received a regular ol’ 50-game ban as a first time offender. His nature of his connection to Biogenesis is unclear. He accepted the penalty and will begin serving the suspension immediately, without appeal. Cervelli is expected to miss the rest of the season with lingering hand and elbow problems, and he’ll be allowed to serve the suspension while on the DL. The Yankees said they “are disappointed” and “it’s clear that he used bad judgment.”
Eleven other players were suspended in addition to A-Rod and Cervelli: Antonio Bastardo, Everth Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Fautino De Los Santos (minors), Sergio Escalona (minors), Fernando Martinez (minors with Yankees), Jordan Norberto (free agent), Jhonny Peralta, Cesar Puello (minors), Jordany Valdespin (minors) and former Yankees farmhand Jesus Montero (minors). Yasmani Grandal and former Yankees Bartolo Colon and Melky Cabrera were not disciplined after serving 50-day suspensions within the last calendar year.
I wish I could say I’m glad this is all over and done with, but that’s not the case. Not even close. The appeal ensures this will drag on for another few weeks and I’m guessing there will still be regular A-Rod updates even after that. The good news is that we are a big step closer to getting some closure though. The Biogenesis stuff has been in the headlines far too long and is taking a lot away from the games on the field. It’s great MLB is going to such great lengths to clean up the game, but make no mistake, it is coming at a cost.
There is only one AL team the Yankees have yet to face this season, and they’ll take care of that this series when they play three in Chicago against the White Sox. It has been a full calendar month since the Bombers last won a series, so this would definitely be a good time to get off the schneid. Actually, it’s imperative if they truly intend to make a run at a wildcard spot.
What Have They Done Lately?
The ChiSox are really, really bad. So bad that they have lost each of their last ten (!) games. I’m pretty sure that makes this a trap series, no? Either way, Chicago’s south siders are 40-69 with a -87 run differential overall, both the second worst marks in the league behind the Astros. Ten losses in a row? Yikes.
Finally, a team that is worse offensively than the Yankees. The White Sox average just 3.6 runs per game with a team 80 wRC+, both the worst marks in the AL. The Yankees are the second worst in each category at 3.8 runs per game and an 81 wRC+. They’re two of the three worst offensive teams in baseball (Marlins are the worst by far). These three games are going to take like, seven hours total. The ChiSox do not have any position players on the DL.
Manager and former Yankee Robin Ventura has one legitimately above-average hitter at his disposal: 1B/DH Adam Dunn (114 wRC+). Both OF Alejandro De Aza (104 wRC+) and OF Alex Rios (101 wRC+) are slightly above-average at the moment but not comfortably. 2B Gordon Beckham (98 wRC+) is both flirting with league average and having the best year of his disappointing career. 1B/DH Paul Konerko (77 wRC+) has lost his power due to back problems and age (37). Sucks.
OF Dayan Viciedo (87 wRC+) has some pop and 3B Conor Gillaspie (79 wRC+) is actually better than what the Yankees have been running out there at the hot corner. SS Alexei Ramirez (74 wRC+), C Tyler Flowers (63 wRC+), and IF Jeff Keppinger (41 wRC+) have all been awful. The bench guys — C Josh Phegley (46 wRC+), OF Jordan Danks (28 wRC+), and OF Casper Wells (20 wRC+) — are terrible as well. It’s worth noting that as a team, the ChiSox have the second lowest walk rate in the AL (6.6%). They’re hackers.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Monday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. LHP Jose Quintana
After a season and two-thirds, it’s pretty obvious the Yankees made a major blunder by not adding the 24-year-old Quintana to the 40-man roster after the 2011 season to prevent him from becoming a minor league free agent following his breakout season with High-A Tampa (2.91 ERA and 2.96 FIP). He hooked on with the White Sox before last year and has a 3.69 ERA (4.01 FIP) in 268 big league innings since, including a 3.62 ERA (3.79 FIP) in 131.2 innings and 22 starts this season. The strikeout (7.18 K/9 and 19.0 K%), walk (2.67 BB/9 and 7.1 BB%), homer (0.96 HR/9 and 9.4 BB%), and ground ball (44.0%) numbers are all rock solid but unspectacular. Quintana is a true five-pitch pitcher, using low-90s two and four-seamers to set up his mid-80s slider, mid-80s changeup, and upper-70s curveball. The curve and change are his top two secondary pitches. Quintana has close to no platoon split in his relatively brief big league career and he’s faced the Yankees once before, getting hit around for six runs in six innings last June.
Tuesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Chris Sale
Sale, 24, has established himself as arguably the best left-handed starter in the AL since moving into the rotation last season. It’s pretty much a toss-up between him and David Price at the moment. Sale’s got a 2.92 ERA (2.89 FIP) in 20 starts with stellar peripherals: 9.82 K/9 (27.0 K%), 1.96 BB/9 (5.4 BB%), 0.82 HR/9 (11.1% HR/FB), and 46.8% grounders. He’s essentially a three-pitch pitcher, using a low-to-mid-90s two-seamer, a low-to-mid-80s changeup, and an upper-70s slider from a funky low arm slot. Sale does have a big platoon split, but only because he destroys lefties (.168 wOBA) and is merely very good against righties (.296 wOBA). This would be a good game to rest guys like Brett Gardner, Lyle Overbay, and Ichiro Suzuki. The Yankees have faced Sale a few times over the years but just once since he moved into the rotation; he held them to one run in 7.1 innings last August.
Wednesday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Hector Santiago
Five of the six scheduled starters this series are left-handed, including all three for the ChiSox. The 25-year-old Santiago grew up in Newark and has a 3.28 ERA (4.08 FIP) in a true swingman role this season — 107 innings spread across 15 starts and eleven relief appearances. He strikes out a ton of batters (9.34 K/9 and 24.4 K%), but is liberal with the free pass (4.12 BB/9 and 10.8 BB%) and will allow the ball to be hit in the air (34.2% grounders). His homer rate (1.01 HR/9 and 9.7% HR/FB) is up there but not a disaster. Believe it or not, Santiago is seven-pitch pitcher, and that’s only because he stopped throwing his two-seamer in 2012. His arsenal includes a low-to-mid-90s four-seamer, a low-90s sinker, an upper-80s cutter, a low-80s changeup, an upper-70s slider, a mid-70s curveball, and a mid-70s screwball. Here’s a .GIF of the screwball, if you don’t believe me. The four-seamer, slider, and changeup are his top three pitches, but he will throw all of the others in a given outing. Santiago faced the Yankees twice last season, allowing four runs in four relief innings.
Stalwarts LHP Matt Thornton and RHP Jesse Crain were sold off prior to the trade deadline, so Ventura’s current bullpen is headlined by closer RHP Addison Reed (2.64 FIP) and setup man RHP Nate Jones (2.48 FIP). RHP Matt Lindstrom (3.09 FIP) continues to be rock solid and rounds out a very good end-game trip. The parade of relievers you’ve probably never heard of before include RHP Dylan Axelrod (5.45 FIP), LHP David Purcey (4.43 FIP in very limited time), RHP Ramon Troncoso (4.54 FIP), and LHP Donnie Veal (5.85 FIP). Those middle innings can be an adventure.
Even though Phil Hughes lasted just 2.2 innings yesterday, the Yankees are in okay bullpen shape. Not great but good enough. You can check out our Bullpen Workload page for details on which relievers pitched when over the last ten days. For the latest and greatest on the White Sox, I recommend South Side Sox. The title of that blog is pretty much the only reason I remember the Cubs are on Chicago’s north side and the ChiSox on the south.
Record Last Week: 2-3 (13 RS, 16 RA)
Season Record: 57-53 (420 RS, 431 RA, 54-56 pythag. record), 9.5 GB ALE/4.5 GB WC
Opponents This Week: @ White Sox (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, vs. Tigers (three games, Fri. to Sun.)
Top stories from last week:
- The week started with an off-day, then the Yankees suffered a walk-off loss in their series opener against the Dodgers. Hiroki Kuroda salvaged the two-game series by beating Clayton Kershaw on Wednesday.
- Following another off-day, the Bombers headed to San Diego for a three-game weekend set. CC Sabathia got hammered in the opening loss, then Curtis Granderson and Ivan Nova teamed up to give the team a win in the middle game. Phil Hughes got smacked around in yesterday’s loss.
- Injury Updates: Alex Rodriguez (quad) played in two minor league rehab games and is ready to be activated. Derek Jeter (calf) is day-to-day with a Grade I strain. David Phelps (elbow) is out with soreness and is heading for tests. Michael Pineda (shoulder) is headed for tests after leaving a Triple-A start with stiffness. Frankie Cervelli (hand, elbow) is likely done for the year with lingering pain. David Robertson (arm) was unavailable for a few days due to fatigue but has since returned.
- The Yankees did not make a single move prior to Wednesday’s trade deadline, but they did make a run at both Michael Young and Carlos Ruiz. They also had their eye on Alberto Callaspo. Two offers were made for Phil Hughes.
- MLB will officially suspend A-Rod for the rest of this season and all of next season today. He reportedly reached out to the Yankees to discuss a possible buyout after suggesting the team and the league were conspiring to keep him off the field. Cervelli is “leaning strongly” towards accepting a plea deal.
- Melky Mesa was sent down to Triple-A Scranton to clear a roster spot for Granderson, who was activated on Friday. David Adams went down for Jayson Nix, who was activated Tuesday.
- The Yankees signed Dominican outfielder Leonardo Molina for $1.4M.
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It has now been a full month since the Yankees last won a series and more than three weeks (three weeks and two days, to be exact) since they last won back-to-back games. The Padres took Sunday’s rubber game 6-3 and it didn’t even feel that close.
Phil The Phlop
For the second straight start and third time in his last five starts, Phil Hughes failed to complete five innings of work. He’s done that a league-leading eight times this season. Heck, Phil didn’t even complete three innings on Sunday. The Padres tattooed him for five runs on six hits and three walks in 2.2 innings, and two of those eight outs were given to him: one on a sac bunt, another on an incorrect caught stealing call at second base. Five of those nine base-runners reached base in a two-strike count.
On most teams, a 4.87 ERA and 4.66 FIP through 21 starts earns you a demotion to the bullpen or the minors or whatever. Hughes is in little danger of that for two reasons. One, he’s definitely got a “teacher’s pet” thing going on. The Yankees are stubborn and desperately want to prove they can develop a starter, which is why he’s gotten opportunity after opportunity over the years. Two, the team simply doesn’t have any other rotation options right now. David Phelps (elbow), Michael Pineda (shoulder), and Vidal Nuno (groin) are all hurt and no one in Triple-A has made a decent case for themselves. Adam Warren, who threw two scoreless innings on Sunday, is the only realistic alternative. Like it or not, Hughes is almost certainly going to continue getting the ball every fifth day.
It Must Be The Ballpark
Former Yankee Ian Kennedy came into this start with a 5.23 ERA and 4.59 FIP, but you never would have known it on Sunday. The right-hander carved the Yankees up for the first five innings, holding them to two walks and two singles while striking out five. The Bombers did rough him up for two runs on two walks and two singles in the sixth, knocking him out of the game, but overall it was a solid start for Kennedy. Very nice first impression for him in front of his knew club.
The Yankees actually managed to get the tying run to the plate against the ultra-homer prone Huston Street in the ninth inning, but both Brent Lillibridge and Vernon Wells struck out on sliders down and away to end the game. I know, I was shocked too. Although the club managed a dozen base-runners, the only two highlights on offense were Curtis Granderson (single, three walks) and Austin Romine (walk, single, solo homer). They were a two-man army. The rest of the lineup went a combined 3-for-27 (.111) with two walks. For the fifth straight game and eighth time in the last ten games, the Yankees scored no more than three runs. Who knew getting no help at the trade deadline would be a bad thing?
The homer was the first of Romine’s big league career, and it was no cheapie. He hit it into the Padres bullpen just to left of dead center. Romine is 10-for-21 (.476) with four doubles and a homer in his last eight games — a small sample made even less significant by the fact that those eight games have been spread out — and it’s obvious the Yankees should start playing him some more just to see what they have. Chris Stewart is completely worn down (.171/.256/.210 in his last 37 games) and Frankie Cervelli is likely done for the year (hand, elbow, suspension). Give the kid a chance. At worst, he plays like Stewart.
Both Robinson Cano (0-for-3 with a walk) and Ichiro Suzuki (0-for-4 with a strikeout) continued their slumps, which started right after the All-Star break. Cano took that Matt Harvey fastball to the knee in the Midsummer Classic, so maybe that’s the culprit. Ichiro really doesn’t have an excuse. He just isn’t all that good. The Yankees desperately need these two — or just Cano really, they have a ton of outfielders on the roster — to snap out of it.
In the second inning, Eduardo Nunez didn’t bother to run out a ground ball to first that resulted in an inning-ending double play. Barely left the batter’s box. I think he thought the ball was going foul, but still. Then, in the sixth, he busted it out of the box on a ground ball up the middle and slid head-first into first base even though the inning-ending out was recorded on a force at second base. There was no play at first. Baseball is weird sometimes.
It didn’t really matter at the end of the day, but sitting Brett Gardner with an extreme fly ball pitcher on the mound in a huge ballpark wasn’t Joe Girardi‘s finest moment. Maybe Gardner was banged up or something — doubt it since he came off the bench in the later innings — though it’s not the first time he’s sat Gardner with Hughes on the mound this year. That’s just a bad idea.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. For some other stats, go to FanGraphs. For the standings, go to ESPN. The Yankees are now eight games back in the AL East and four games back in the wildcard race in the loss column. There are four teams (Indians, Orioles, Rangers, Royals) ahead of them in that race for the second wildcard spot.
The Yankees are off to Chicago’s south side, where Alex Rodriguez may or may not join them for their series opener against the White Sox. Either way, Monday night’s pitching matchup will be Andy Pettitte and former Yankees farmhand Jose Quintana.
Remember Andrew Brackman? Of course you do. He told Josh Horton that he is done with baseball and is going to play basketball overseas. How about that? The Brackmonster was one of the biggest busts in franchise history, especially from a financial standpoint. The team paid him north of $12M to face 13 batters at the big league level.
In other news, Josh Norris reports that OF Aaron Judge has been placed on the 7-day DL for an unknown reason. All three of the team’s first round picks landed on the DL before playing their first pro game. Impressive.
Triple-A Scranton (7-3 loss to Lehigh Valley)
- CF Melky Mesa: 0-4, 2 K
- 2B David Adams: 1-4, 1 R — eleven hits in 21 at-bats since being sent down (.524)
- DH Randy Ruiz: 2-4, 1 RBI, 1 K
- C J.R. Murphy: 0-4, 1 E (throwing)
- RHP Brett Marshall: 5.1 IP, 12 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 3/1 GB/FB — 67 of 95 pitches were strikes (71%) … second time he allowed 7+ runs in his last five starts
- RHP Dellin Betances: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HB, 1/0 GB/FB — nine of 15 pitches were strikes (60%) … I wonder if they’re going to start using him like a normal reliever soon, meaning shorter outings, back-to-back days, etc. … he’s been going multiple innings with multiple days off between appearances, which isn’t typical for non-long men at the MLB level
An MRI revealed a Grade I strain in Derek Jeter’s right calf last night, Joe Girardi announced. “I’m not so sure what we’re going to do,” said the skipper when asked if the Cap’n would need to be placed on the DL. He indicated they may simply let Jeter play through it because it’s getting late in the season and each game is so important. Hard to see that ending well if that is indeed what happens. · (35) ·
Here is your open thread for this very pleasant evening in New York. If you’re not in the Tri-State Area, I hope the weather is just as great wherever you are. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is decent — the Braves at the Phillies (Wood vs. Lee) — plus the Dolphins and Cowboys are playing the first NFL preseason game of the year (8pm ET on NBC). Preseason football already, huh? Talk about either of those games or anything else here. Have at it.