Got eight questions for you this week — one long one and seven short-ish ones. If you want to send us questions or comments or anything else throughout the week, use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar. We get a ton of questions each week, so don’t take it personally if we don’t answer yours.
Jeb asks: It’ll never happen, but what do you think Masahiro Tanaka would net in a trade?
Oh man. Ace-caliber pitchers almost never get traded, especially not 25-year-old ace-caliber pitchers signed for another three and a half years (I think you have to assume Tanaka will use the opt-out in his contract). Cliff Lee was 30 and he had a year and a half left on his deal when he went from the Indians to the Phillies. Roy Halladay was 32 with a year left on his deal when he went from the Blue Jays to the Phillies. Those are the most recent examples of ace trades.
You have to go back a few years, but I think there are three comparable trades we can reference when talking about a potential Tanaka trade. Allow me to reiterate this is all hypothetical and for fun. The Yankees aren’t trading Tanaka. Even if they did decide to sell, he’s someone they could keep and rebuild around. Here are those three comparable deals:
- Josh Beckett (Marlins to Red Sox): Beckett was 25 at the time of the trade and had three years of arbitration remaining. He landed the Fish two high-end, MLB ready prospects in Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez, plus two throw-ins. The Red Sox had to take Mike Lowell (77 OPS+ in 2014) and the $18M left on his contract to make it happen.
- Dan Haren (Athletics to Diamondbacks): Haren was 27 at the time of the trade and had two years plus an option left on his contract. He was dealt for six young players, most notably Brett Anderson, Carlos Gonzalez, and Chris Carter. Anderson and Carter were both very good prospects in High-A. CarGo was in Triple-A.
- Gio Gonzalez (Athletics to Nationals): Like Beckett, Gio was 25 at the time of the trade. Unlike Beckett, he was four years away from free agency. Washington gave up two good but not great MLB ready arms (Brad Peacock and Tom Milone), a top Single-A pitching prospect (A.J. Cole), and a good Triple-A catching prospect (Derek Norris) to get the lefty.
Based on these deals, any package for Tanaka would have to start with two very good prospects, including one who could step right onto the MLB roster in an everyday capacity like Hanley, CarGo, or Norris. There would also have to be two or three other lesser pieces involved, MLB ready or otherwise. Tanaka is far more expensive than those three at the time of their trades, which is an issue. Few teams can actually afford his contract. Let’s assume the Yankees will eat some money just to make life easy.
Okay, so let’s rosterbate. The Cubs had interest in signing Tanaka and could offer a top position player prospect like Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, or Albert Almora as package headliner. (I assume Kris Bryant is off limits.). The Dodgers are always looking to add and Joc Pederson is a natural fit as a center piece. The Tigers as protection if Scherzer leaves? Unless they offer Nick Castellanos, I’m not sure there’s a fit. The Cardinals have a bunch of outfielders to offer, including Stephen Piscotty if they don’t want to move Oscar Taveras. A trade with the Red Sox would never happen but Mookie Betts would definitely make sense.
Keep in mind I mentioned those prospects as the start of a trade package. The Yankees would need to get one of those guys plus another very good piece (Zach Lee or Julio Urias from the Dodgers? Arismendy Alcantara from the Cubs?) and a few secondary pieces. If they aren’t going to get at least one potential star player plus several other young high-upside players close to the show, it’s not worth it. A Hanley/Anibal package would be the best case scenario given what we know about how things worked out for the Marlins.
Paul asks: Assuming #HIROK retires or otherwise leaves the Yankees after this year, do you think #TANAK will take number 18?
I think so. It seems likely Hiroki Kuroda will be gone after the season, either due to retirement or simply letting him walk, right? I guess he could come back at a discounted salary if he finishes strong. Anyway, the No. 18 is a big deal in Japan, it’s the ace number. Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kuroda both wear it (Yu Darvish wears No. 11) and Tanaka wore it in Japan. It’s a very symbolic thing to them and I think Tanaka will jump at the chance to wear that number again.
Mike asks: For the last two months Justin Verlander has not been vintage Verlander. Is this a case of just plain old struggling or are the innings catching up to him?
Verlander has been terrible — 7.83 ERA and 5.56 FIP in his last seven starts and 43.2 innings — but he isn’t the only former ace to fall off a cliff recently. Obviously the Yankees have CC Sabathia going through the same thing, and the Giants have seen both Tim Lincecum and now Matt Cain slip in recent years. It happened to Haren not too long ago as well. These guys aren’t breaking down like Josh Johnson, they just stink all of a sudden. It’s kinda scary, no? I don’t know what’s wrong with Verlander and neither do the Tigers fans who have been trying to figure it out like we’ve been trying to figure out what’s wrong with Sabathia. I recommend this Grant Brisbee post for coping with Ace Sucking Syndrome (ASS).
A different Mike asks: Jim Bowden claims that the Rays may be willing to trade Price within the division. He thinks the trade could get done if the Yankees “overpay” by including Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, and Peter O’Brien in the package. Do you a) think the Rays would accept this offer and b) think this is an overpay?
No, I don’t think the Rays would accept that offer and no, I don’t think it’s an overpay. That’d be a steal for the Yankees. We’re talking about getting a legitimate, AL East proven left-handed ace in exchange for a Single-A pitching prospect, a power prospect without a position, and a catching prospect who hasn’t hit much in Double-A and is being benched for disciplinary reasons. You have to give up something to get something, and Sanchez and O’Brien are among the team’s most expendable prospects. Dealing Severino would sting, but again, he’s in A-ball. You deal him for a guy like Price every day of the week.
At this point I think Jeter and Tanaka will be the only Yankees elected to the All-Star Game. Jeter is still leading the fan voting at shortstop and Tanaka has been awesome. He’s a candidate to start the game. Keep in mind that Brian McCann is second in the catcher voting behind Matt Wieters, who is done for the season following elbow surgery. McCann might start at catcher by default. I think Betances deserves to go because he’s been one of the five best relievers in baseball this season, but deserving to go and actually going are two different things. Gardner’s been awesome (so have Jacoby Ellsbury for that matter) but I can’t see him going to the All-Star Game. There are too many great/more popular outfielders in the AL.
Ghost of Horace Clarke asks: Better manager, Joe Girardi or Joe Torre?
On the field, Girardi is clearly the better manager. He’s better with the bullpen and more open-minded to platoons and shifts and stuff like that. Torre was very old school and straight forward. We have no way of knowing who is better in the clubhouse, but Torre was a master at dealing with the media and that counts for something. It’s easy to drum up controversy in New York and that very rarely happened under his watch. Girardi has improved in that department but he’s no Torre. There’s no debate who the better on-field tactician is, however.
Ron asks: OK. Am I the only one who notices that whenever McCann has an at-bat, he squints so much that you can barely see his eyes. Does this not beg to ask if he has a vision problem?????
McCann’s facial expresses are pretty funny. They’re definitely one of my favorite sidebars of the season. Anyway, McCann has actually had vision problems in the past. He had LASIK surgery in 2007 but was dealing with blurred vision in 2009, so he wore custom-made prescription glasses for the remainder of the season. McCann has another LASIK procedure the following winter and has had no trouble since. I think the squinting and funny faces are just quirky mannerisms, but I suppose he could be having eye problems again. I think he would speak up if that were the case given his history though.
Yet another Mike asks: Taylor Dugas — How come nobody talks about this kid? He’s 24 and is stuck in Trenton. He has decent numbers especially his .422 OBP.
Dugas was just promoted to Triple-A Scranton yesterday, so he isn’t stuck in Double-A any longer. The Yankees selected him in the eighth round of the 2012 draft out of Alabama and he’s hit .293/.422/.368 (~138 wRC+) with more walks (138) than strikeouts (103) in 226 minor league games, including .294/.403/.424 (134 wRC+) in 54 games with Trenton.
Dugas is a left-handed hitter with no power and only okay defense, so his usefulness is limited. Keith Law (subs. req’d) said “he squares up all kinds of pitching and I would be very surprised if he didn’t hit his way to some kind of major league role, maybe even as the heavy side of a platoon” following the draft that year, though Baseball America (subs. req’d) basically said Dugas is Sam Fuld without the defense. Dugas obviously can control the strike zone, his performance has been great, and he is on the right side of the platoon. He doesn’t have the sexiest tools but he is putting himself in position to have some kind of big league role for the Yankees, maybe even as Ichiro Suzuki‘s replacement next year.
It took a while, but the Yankees finished off a huge three-game sweep of the Blue Jays on Thursday night. Huge by June standards, I mean. The Bombers now have 16 straight wins over the Jays in Yankee Stadium — the last time Toronto won a game in the Bronx, Cody Eppley allowed some late runs — which is pretty amazing. Thursday’s final score was 6-4.
The Yankees took a very slow and methodical approach to scoring runs in the early innings. Emphasis on slow. This game took forever. The Yankees scored their first run in the first inning, their second run in the second inning, their third run in the third inning, and their fourth run in the … fifth inning. You thought it was the fourth inning, didn’t you? Probably not. I’m guessing you saw the game.
Anyway, the duo of Brett Gardner (double) and Jacoby Ellsbury (sac fly) plated the first run with a Derek Jeter infield single mixed in. A walk (Brian McCann), a fielder’s choice (Carlos Beltran), a single (Ichiro Suzuki), another walk (Brian Roberts), and another sac fly (Kelly Johnson) created the second run. The Yankees left the bases loaded in the second inning, but they forced starter Drew Hutchison to throw 38 pitches. Ichiro, Roberts, Johnson, and Gardner combined to see 28 pitches themselves in that inning. Hutchison had nothing to put anyone away. They were fouling pitches off at will.
The third inning rally was pretty basic. Ellsbury singled and stole second, then moved to third on Mark Teixeira‘s single. Beltran drove in Ellsbury with yet another sacrifice fly. I didn’t think Ellsbury would run on Jose Bautista, but he did and catcher Erick Kratz couldn’t handle the throw. I didn’t think Beltran would test Bautista’s arm in the second inning either, but he did and the throw was a little up the line. The fourth run did not require a sac fly — Ellsbury scored on Beltran’s ground rule double after singling and stealing second. Teixeira likely would have scored from first had the ball not hopped over the fence. Tough break.
Seven hits, four walks, three sacrifice flies, and two steals equals four runs in five innings. I imagine everyone who enjoys manufacturing runs and extended rallies and stuff like that loved this game. The Yankees really worked Hutchison hard and just kept chipping away. It would have been nice if one of those sac flies had fallen in or found a gap for extra bases to really blow things open, but runs are runs and the Yankees need as many as they can get these days.
St. David of Phelps
This game did not start very well for David Phelps. Melky Cabrera singled and Bautista walked in the first inning, so he was in hot water right away. Then Melky got picked off second and the whole outlook of the inning changed. Phelps got out of the inning unscathed and went on to hold Toronto to just two runs in seven innings while throwing a career-high tying 115 pitches. The only blemish was Melky’s two-run homer in the third inning. It was a bomb. Phelps made a mistake and it got hammered. That’s baseball.
The bullpen was a little short after the first two games of the series, so Joe Girardi pushed Phelps a little longer than I think he normally would have, and David responded very well. He retired pinch-hitter Adam Lind with two on and two outs to end the sixth inning — Matt Thornton was unable to warm up in time, but it worked out — then retired the side in order in the seventh, including two via strikeouts. The finally tally was the two runs on six hits and two walks in those seven innings. He also struck out seven. Between his last start against the Athletics and this start against the Blue Jays, Phelps has had arguably his two best starts against the two best hitting teams in the league.
Interesting, Of Course
Dellin Betances and David Robertson were both unavailable due to their recent workloads, so it was much appreciated when the Yankees scored insurance runs in the sixth (Roberts scampered home on Jeter’s fielder’s choice) and seventh (Yangervis Solarte drew a bases loaded walk). Shawn Kelley got the ball in the eighth and served up a mammoth two-run homer to Edwin Encarnacion, turning a four-run lead into a two-run lead. See? Always good to score those insurance runs.
In my totally amateur opinion, Kelley hasn’t looked 100% healthy since coming off the disabled list. It doesn’t seem like he is able to finish his pitches, particularly driving his slider down and away to righties. That makes sense after a back problem, right? He left a slider up to Bautista for ball four and left a fastball slightly less up to Encarnacion, and now it’s a souvenir. Kelley shouldn’t see any important innings for a little while.
Thornton recorded the final out of the eighth inning and the first out of the ninth inning before allowing a ground ball single to Colby Rasmus. That brought the tying run to the plate, which was rather annoying. The game looked to be in the bag an inning earlier. Closer du jour Adam Warren took over and retired pinch-hitter Munenori Kawasaki (fly out) and Jose Reyes (ground out) to end the game. Unnecessarily stressful at the end there, but a win is a win.
Solarte was in the game to draw that bases loaded walk in the seventh because Johnson bunted a pitch off his fingers and had to leave with bruises. Plural. X-rays came back negative and he is day-to-day. Johnson technically struck out twice (Solarte struck out for him in one of those at-bats) and had a sac fly before leaving. Jeter, Ellsbury, and Teixeira all had two hits while Gardner, Beltran, Ichiro, and Roberts had one each. McCann drew two of the team’s seven walks. The Yankees struck out only four times.
I have no idea what happened on the Dioner Navarro pop-up/Encarnacion interference play in the fourth inning. Navarro popped it up, Texeira ran into Encarnacion while trying to field the ball, then caught it anyway. For whatever reason the play ended with one out and Navarro at first. Shouldn’t Encarnacion be out on the interference and Navarro on the pop-up? The ball isn’t dead, is it? Whatever.
Thursday’s HOPE Week event honored Musicians on Call, an organization that sends volunteer singers and musicians to visit hospital patients, particularly those confined to their rooms. Here’s the Musicians on Call website, here’s more on the day, and here’s the HOPE Week video archive.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, head over to MLB.com. Some other stats are at FanGraphs and ESPN has the updated standings. The Yankees and Blue Jays are now tied atop the AL East in the loss column, though the Bombers are technically still 1.5 games back. These two teams play three games in Toronto next week. That’ll be fun.
The Orioles are coming to town for a three-game weekend series. They are right behind the Yankees in the standings, so that’s another big series. Hiroki Kuroda and Ubaldo Jimenez kick things off on Friday night. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to catch any of the games live. Tino Martinez is having his plaque unveiled in Monument Park on Saturday and Sunday is Old Timers’ Day, you know.
Got a bunch of notes to pass along:
- As expected, OF Aaron Judge was officially promoted from Low-A Charleston to High-A Tampa. RHP Nick Goody, UTIL Zach Wilson, and UTIL Jose Toussen were all promoted from Tampa to Double-A Trenton while OF Taylor Dugas went from Trenton to Triple-A Scranton according to Matt Kardos, Nicholas Flammia, and Donnie Collins.
- Keith Law (subs. req’d) posted his thoughts after attending yesterday’s Trenton game. He reiterated that LHP Manny Banuelos‘ stuff wasn’t as sharp as it was pre-elbow surgery and that C Peter O’Brien has huge power but might not tap into it at the MLB level because of plate discipline and pitch recognition issues.
- Baseball Prospectus now has a database of all their free firsthand scouting reports, so check that out. There are only two Yankees farmhands so far (RHP Bryan Mitchell and LHP Ian Clarkin), but they’ll continue to add to it.
Triple-A Scranton (7-4 loss to Toledo)
- LF Jose Pirela: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 BB — 8-for-34 (.235) in his first nine Triple-A games
- CF Zoilo Almonte; 1-5, 1 R, 1 RBI
- 3B Scott Sizemore: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
- 1B Kyle Roller: 2-4
- C Austin Romine: 0-4
- RHP Alfredo Aceves: 3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 Balk, 4/3 GB/FB — 36 of 63 pitches were strikes (57%)
- SwP Pat Venditte: 2.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 0/3 GB/FB – 34 of 56 pitches were strikes (61%)
- RHP Danny Burawa: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1/1 GB/FB — only 17 of 37 pitches were strikes (46%) … 32/14 K/BB in 25 innings
- RHP Matt Daley: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — only six of 14 pitches were strikes (43%)
10:00pm: Johnson is day-to-day with bruised fingers (plural!), the team announced. X-rays came back negative. Good news. He easily could have broken one of those tiny little bones in his fingers based on the way the pitch hit him.
9:38pm: Kelly Johnson left tonight’s game with an injured finger (or fingers) following a bunt attempt in the sixth inning. Replays clearly showed that he took the pitch to his right fingers while he was squaring around. It was a direct hit. Johnson initially tried to stay in the game but eventually called time, spoke to the trainer, and walked off. I’m sure he’s heading for x-rays now. · (1) ·
The Yankees did exactly what they needed to do in the first two games of the series, namely win. Tonight they have a chance to finish off the sweep of the first place Blue Jays and climb to within 1.5 games of the AL East lead. Yeah, I know the season is not even halfway over yet, but the sooner they can catch up and get close to the pack, the better off the Yankees will be. Finish the job and get the sweep. Here is the Blue Jays lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- DH Carlos Beltran
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 2B Brian Roberts
- 3B Kelly Johnson
RHP David Phelps
It is warm, humid, and cloudy in New York, and there are some showers in the forecast later tonight. Nothing too heavy though, and it won’t be a problem until the late innings if it is a problem at all. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.
From Mike Shackil, TiqIQ:
It’s an eventful weekend for the New York Yankees this week. After a three-game series with the division-leading Toronto Blue Jays, the Yanks welcome the Baltimore Orioles to Yankee Stadium. More importantly, there will be a couple events to celebrate some of the most storied players in Yankees franchise history. On Saturday the team is honoring Tino Martinez, and Sunday is 68th Annual Old Timers’ Day at the Stadium.
Tickets for the game hold an average price well above the season average. Yankees tickets are averaging $185.37 for a 29 percent increase over the season average of $144.06. The get-in price for the game is $44. The Yankees will unveil a Monument Park plaque for the former star before the game.
The next day is Old Timers Day and the ceremonies will start at 11:30 am. Rich “Goose” Gossage will have his own plaque unveiled before the Old-Timers game. In addition to being a former Yankee great, Gossage is a Hall of Famer after having being inducted as part of the 2008 class. He was with the Yankees for seven seasons and won a World Series with the team back in 1978, his first season with the team.
The Old Timers game will follow the ceremonies, and will also be aired on the YES network, and the final game of the Yankees vs. Orioles series will come after. The game is currently scheduled for a 2:05 pm start.
Tickets for the game are averaging $147.53 for a two percent increase over the season average. The get-in price for the game is $27. Yankees fans will have an added treat for Sunday’s game, as phenom Masahiro Tanaka will be making the start. He’s the current frontrunner for AL Rookie of the Year, and has been one of the top five pitchers in the entire league.
The Yankees are currently 2.5 games behind the division-leading Toronto Blue Jays with a 37-33 record. The Orioles are just a half a game behind them at 37-34. The Yankees have actually fared better on the road this season, posting a losing 15-16 record at Yankees Stadium, while the Orioles have a winning road record at 20-17. It should be an exciting weekend for Yankees fans young and old.
The Yankees have won the first two games against the Blue Jays this week thanks to the tried and true formula of quality pitching and timely hitting. They also did something they don’t do very often these days: they hit the ball out of the park. Brett Gardner hit a two-run homer in the first game and Brian McCann hit a two-run homer in the second game. Both were cheap Yankee Stadium shots, but hey, you can only play in the ballpark they give you.
Through their first 70 games of 2014, the Yankees have hit 57 homers as a team, putting them on pace for 132 for the season. (The 2009 Yankees had 105 homers after 70 games, for comparison.) Last year’s team had the worst Yankees’ offense in two decades and they still managed to hit 144 dingers. This season’s homer pace figures to increase now that the weather is really starting to warm up, but the fact remains that the Bronx Bombers aren’t living up to their nickname at all. They lack the ability to change the game with one swing.
“We absolutely have to hit more homers,” said Mark Teixeira to Joel Sherman earlier this week. “At this park, you have to score and we just are not scoring enough. If we don’t believe we are going to do that, we might as well pick up and go home because winning will be very hard unless at some point we drive balls and score runs.”
There are plenty of reasons why the Yankees suddenly can’t hit homers. First and foremost, they flat out have a ton of non-power hitters in the lineup on a daily basis. Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Derek Jeter, Brian Roberts, Yangervis Solarte, and Ichiro Suzuki are not going to hit the ball out of the park with any regularity. Kelly Johnson never plays, Alfonso Soriano has no more life in his bat, and both Carlos Beltan and McCann have disappointed at the plate.
Outside of swinging a big blockbuster for Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss (or getting A-Rod‘s suspension overturned!), the only way the Yankees can improve their power output in a meaningful way is by getting McCann and Beltran to turn their seasons around. McCann had an awesome game last night and maybe that’s a sign he’s coming around. It would be nice but we’ve said this before. Between the bone spur and general ineffectiveness, Beltran’s been invisible since the last week of April. These two simply aren’t playing as expected.
There was always a kernel of truth to the “too many homers” concept, it was just expressed in the silliest way possible. There is no such thing as hitting too many homers — a homer is literally the best possible thing a hitter can do — but the Yankees did lack offensive diversity for a few years. The speed of Gardner and Ellsbury has changed that, though now the Yankees are too far on the other side of the spectrum. They rely too much on extended rallies in an age when infield shifts and specialized relievers make picking up a simple base hit harder than ever.
The Yankees play in a small ballpark in a division full of hitter friendly ballparks, and 50 of their final 92 games will be played against AL East teams. That’s the reality of their situation. They don’t need to set homerun records or anything, but they need to be able to cut a deficit or increase a lead with one swing, especially in their home ballpark. This team lacks that and it limits what the offense can do. Getting Beltran and McCann on track will help, as would replacing Soriano and adding an infielder. The Yankees play with a tiny margin of error because of this power-less offense.
Via Jim Salisbury: The Yankees have some interest in John Mayberry Jr. and had a scout at the Phillies’ recent series in Atlanta. He went 2-for-8 with two singles, three walks, and two strikeouts during the three-game set. Philadelphia has played well of late but still has the seventh worst record in baseball. Rumblings that they may finally sell and start to rebuild are growing louder and louder.
Mayberry, 30, had a huge year in 2011 (132 wRC+) that made everyone think he was the next great bench player, but then he dropped off to an 87 wRC+ from 2012-13. Mayberry is hitting .256/.363/.526 (147 wRC+) with five homers in only 91 plate appearances this season. He’s a right-handed bat who has always hit lefties (183 wRC+ in 2014 and 125 from 2011-13) and can play both corner outfield spots as well as first base. Imagine that, a real backup first baseman. Mayberry, who is under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2016, would be a clear upgrade over the current version of Alfonso Soriano in my opinion. · (47) ·
Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline is exactly six weeks from today. That really doesn’t seem so far away, does it? I still feel like the season just started. This year is flying by.
Anyway, the Yankees have more than a few needs to address in the weeks leading up to the deadline, at least if they want to remain in contention. These last two wins over the Blue Jays have moved them to within 2.5 games of the Blue Jays for the AL East lead and that’s nothing at this point of the season. You can make that up in the weekend. Contention is not some far-fetched idea.
Of course, about 25 other teams have their eyes set on the postseason as well, a product of baseball’s push for league-wide mediocrity. (I recommend this Tom Verducci article on the game’s so-called parity.) More teams want to buy and fewer teams are looking to sell. The market is all demand with little supply. Despite that, Brian Cashman expects to swing a deal these next six weeks.
“Usually when everybody’s bunched together, it constrains the ability [to complete trades],” said the GM to Ken Davidoff. “We usually make moves every year, so I expect to make moves … I feel that we do have the ability to make trades if that’s a route we so choose. How we line up with other clubs, I don’t know … but I definitely have people that are wanted within the industry. But we want those guys, too. We’ll see.”
The Yankees’ needs seem to change by the week but I think they are pretty obvious at this point. They definitely need another starting pitcher, a reliable workhorse type. CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda are not coming back anytime soon and, as good as he’s been, Chase Whitley does not give the team many innings. Vidal Nuno simply hasn’t been very good. Another starter feels like a must.
Cashman’s club can also use another infielder, especially now that Yangervis Solarte has come back to Earth. Adding a power bat for right field should also be considered as well. Ichiro Suzuki has done a fine job as a platoon player but Alfonso Soriano has been atrocious with no signs of snapping out of it. Carlos Beltran is locked into the DH spot, making right field the obvious non-infield spot to add a bat.
That’s the big stuff. A starter, an infielder, a right fielder. Every team could always use another reliever or a better bat for the bench, and the Yankees are no different. It’s entirely possible those three main needs are too much to address at one trade deadline and it’s entirely possible swinging deals for each of those spots still won’t be enough to put the team over the top. It would definitely put them in a better position, however.
As currently constructed, the Yankees are good but not really good enough. That’s just my opinion. They don’t have enough power to hang with their AL East brethren and the starting rotation is asking too much of the team’s core relievers. At some point Joe Girardi‘s going to have to take his foot off the Dellin Betances/Adam Warren gas. Cashman expects to make some moves before the deadline and that’s great. The sooner they make them, the better.
Make it 15 straight wins for the Yankees over the Blue Jays in Yankee Stadium. Geez. The Jays don’t just lose in the Bronx either, they lose and get hurt. Brett Lawrie left Wednesday’s game after taking a pitch to the left hand, though x-rays came back negative. Still. Injury to insult. The Yankees clinched the series win with a 7-3 victory.
In Play: Run(s)
Brian McCann has had a few big games this season. He hit two homers off John Lackey in April, had three hits including a double against the Red Sox later that month, and picked up three hits including a homer against the Mets in May. Wednesday’s game was his best as a Yankee because of the circumstances — they were playing the Blue Jays team they are chasing in the standings. Yeah, it’s only mid-June, but these head-to-head games are crucial when you’re trying to make up ground.
McCann had the team’s two biggest hits of the night. In the fourth, he swatted a go-ahead two-run homer off Mark Buehrle to cap off an excellent ten-pitch, six-foul ball at-bat. It was a cheap Yankee Stadium homer, but hey, that’s why the signed him. The Yankees brought him on board because they believed his dead pull lefty swing would result in a lot of Yankee Stadium cheapies, and that’s what they got in this game.
Later on in the seventh inning, McCann tripled (!) into the right-center field gap to clear the bases and plate three huge insurance runs. Colby Rasmus’ dive came up juuust short. McCann came into Wednesday’s game with 4,595 career plate appearances. That was his third career triple and first since 2009. Add in a walk and he reached base three times and drove in five of their seven runs.
Against what is by far the best lineup he’s faced as a big leaguer, Chase Whitley gave the Yankees a quality outing and held the Blue Jays to two runs in five innings. They worked him hard (98 pitches) as they did Masahiro Tanaka on Tuesday, but Whitley held his own and limited the damage in a two-run fourth inning that could have easily spiraled out of control. Toronto had only five singles, one walk, and one hit batsman against the rookie righty. This was not an easy assignment but Whitley got the job done. Remember, we’re talking about the Yankees’ eighth starter here.
In Play: Out(s)
Joe Girardi used five pitchers on the night (including Whitley) and all five were homegrown. Adam Warren came in and retired all six men he faced in the sixth and seventh innings — the sixth inning was three strikeouts while the seventh was three grounders to second — while the lead was still one run. Once McCann broke it open, Girardi went to Jose Ramirez, who faced two batters, allowed two hits, and was yanked. Dellin Betances cleaned up the mess and retired all three men he faced.
If you want to nitpick, you could argue Girardi should have used Betances to start the eighth inning if Ramirez’s leash was going to be so short. Betances had already warmed up and Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion were due to hit. Let Betances get through them with the five-run lead, then let Ramirez face the bottom of the order in the ninth. Instead, Ramirez allowed a run on those two hits and Girardi wound up having to use David Robertson in the ninth. Robertson retired the side in order in the non-save situation. These games are pretty important and I have no issue with using Robertson there once Ramirez and Betances pitched in the eighth. Four relievers, all homegrown, held the most powerful offense in the league to one run on two hits in four innings. Well done.
The Yankees scored their two non-McCann runs when Alfonso Soriano poked a two-out single through the shift in the first inning to score Brett Gardner and pinch-hitter Ichiro Suzuki drew a bases loaded walk ahead of McCann’s triple in the seventh. So all seven runs were driven in by the catcher and right field positions.
Gardner went 4-for-5 and could have easily been 5-for-5 — the one out was a line drive snagged by Encarnacion at first. Derek Jeter doubled off the right-center field wall and Jacoby Ellsbury, Mark Teixeira, and Carlos Beltran also chipped in base hits. Yangervis Solarte drew a walk and Brian Roberts was the only starter who did not reach base.
For Wednesday’s HOPE Week event, the Yankees signed Quinn Ostergren (age 4), Ryan Tucker (12), and Sean Callahan (11) to one-day contracts and had them spend the day with the team. They are all battling pediatric brain cancer and going through chemotherapy. They’re with an organization called Friends of Jaclyn, which helps improve the life of pediatric brain cancer patients. Here’s the Friends of Jaclyn website, here’s more on the day, and here’s the HOPE Week video archive.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com is the place to go for the box score and video highlights. FanGraphs has some other stats and ESPN has the updated standings. The Yankees are now only 2.5 games back of the Blue Jays for first place in the AL East. There are a ton of games left, but the sooner they catch up, the better.