Saturday Open Thread

Here is an open thread for the rest of the day. The Mets are playing tonight and MLB Network will air a West Coast regional game later on. There are also some NFL preseason games, including Jets vs. Giants. Talk about that stuff or anything else right here.

Game 128: Postseason Push

(Adam Hunger/Getty)
(Adam Hunger/Getty)

The Yankees are in the middle of a very important stretch of games right now. Today is game five of a 12-game stretch against three teams ahead of them in the wildcard race (Mariners, Orioles, Royals). They’ve won three of the first four games of this 12-game stretch so far. They held a two-run lead in the one loss too. Blah. Missed opportunity.

Anyway, the Yankees hammered the Orioles last night, and with another win today, they’ll be only 2.5 games out of the second wildcard spot. They haven’t been that close since June 25th, so more than two months ago. These are playoff games right now, folks. The Yankees will need every win they can get the rest of the way to have a shot at October baseball. Here is the O’s lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. DH Brian McCann
  8. RF Aaron Hicks
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Chad Green

It’s a very nice day in New York. Nice and sunny with only a few clouds. Warm but not hot too. Pretty great afternoon for a ballgame. Today’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET. You can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Rotation Update: The Yankees have flipflopped CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda, so Sabathia will start tomorrow and Pineda will start Monday. I assume they made the switch because Sabathia has pitched very well against the O’s this season (1.93 ERA in 18.2 innings) and they want to make sure he faces them given the wildcard race.

Yankees clobber Orioles 14-4 behind Sanchez and Cessa

For the first time this season, the Yankees are five games over .500. Friday night’s blowout 14-4 win over the Orioles moved the Yankees to 66-61 on the season. They’ve won three straight and ten of their last 15 games. The Yankees sold at the trade deadline and are still playing meaningful baseball heading into September. Imagine being a fan of any other franchise.


Six in the Second
The Orioles and Yankees traded homers in the first inning. Manny Machado whacked a line drive solo home run into Monument Park in the top of the first, then Mark Teixeira responded with a two-run shot into the right field bleachers in the bottom half. I thought it was a jam shot off the handle. He barrelled that ball up way better than I realized. Teixeira gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead five outs into the game.

The bottom of the second was the story of the night. The Yankees rallied for six runs, and one point nine straight batters reached base. Every starter in the lineup had reached base at least once before the end of the second inning. It was that kind of night. Let’s recap the six-run second with an annotated play-by-play, because that’s what we do with big innings.

NYYvsBALpbp082616(1) The first out of the inning was a pretty good indication of what was about to happen. Starlin Castro squared up Yovani Gallardo’s mistake slider and drove it to the warning track in left-center field. Comfortable swing, loud contact, and Gallardo not fooling the hitter. Story of the second inning right there.

(2) When you’re hot, you’re hot. Ronald Torreyes dunked a bloop into shallow center and replacement center field Nolan Reimold (more on that in a bit) failed to make the catch. It clanked right off his glove. He was there and got leather on it, but just failed to complete the catch. That really opened the door for the Yankees. Instead of having two outs and runners on first and second, the bases were loaded with one out. That non-catch was a huge swing in the game situation.

(3) Gallardo threw a first pitch strike to only two of the first nine batters he faced, but Brett Gardner went up to the plate in ambush mode following the Reimold error, and he was rewarded with a two-run single to left. It was hit just slow enough to allow big Aaron Judge to chug all the way around from second base. He runs well for a guy his size and was able to slide in just under the tag. I imagine that, as a catcher, it would have been terrifying to see Judge rounding third before the new home plate collision rules were put in place. The single gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead.

(4) Man, Gary Sanchez is so good. So, so good. The dingers are awesome. We all love ’em. But that second inning double is what separates him from the typical meathead slugger. Sanchez laid off two close pitches to work the 2-0 count, then fouled of a hittable 2-0 fastball (blah) before taking another close pitch to get ahead in the count 3-1. Gallardo threw Sanchez a really good 3-1 slider and got him to swing way out in front. That was just great execution on the pitcher’s part. Gallardo went back to that slider in the 3-2 count and Sanchez was ready for it. He reached out …

Yovani Gallardo Gary Sanchez

… and poked it to the opposite field for a two-run double and a 7-1 lead. That pitch isn’t even a strike, but after flailing at the 3-1 slider, Sanchez made the adjustment and did damage. What an insanely impressive at-bat, especially for a kid this young and this new to the big leagues. This is not Shelley Duncan and Kevin Maas running into fastballs. Sanchez can flat out hit.

(5) The Yankees had two at-bats with the bases loaded in that second inning, and both times the hitter swung at the first pitch. Ask players and they’ll tell you the first pitch is often the best one to hit with the bases loaded. The pitcher doesn’t want to fall behind in the count, so chances are he will throw a fastball over the plate. Gardner swung at the first pitch and was rewarded with a two-run single. Chase Headley swung at the first pitch and popped it up in foul territory. Blah. The Yankees were up 8-1 at the time and the last nine guys had reached base. That felt like a letdown, though not a big one because the inning was going so well. Still would have been nice to get another run there, even with a sac fly.

(6) Adam Jones left the game after the first inning with a hamstring problem. He’s been fighting it for a few days now. That led to Reimold in center with Hyun-Soo Kim and Mark Trumbo in the corners. That might be the worse defensive outfield alignment employed by any team this season. All three guys cost the O’s defensively that inning. Reimold dropped the Torreyes bloop, Kim made a poor throw on Gardner’s single, and Trumbo flubbed both Sanchez’s double and another single (I don’t remember if it was Teixeira’s or Didi Gregorius‘) when he cut the ball off. The Yankees put the ball in play and good things happened that inning.


The Good Luis
The box score says Luis Cessa allowed three runs on five hits and one walk in six innings. He was better than that would lead you to believe. Cessa made only two mistakes basically, and Machado hit them both out of the park. He’ll do that. The solo homer came in the top of the first and the two-run homer came in the top of the sixth, with the Yankees already up 12-1. The dingers more or less bookended Cessa’s start.

Between the dingers, Cessa retired 13 of 17 batters faced, and only three of the 17 hit the ball out of the infield. His moment of truth came in the second, before the six-run outburst, when a leadoff walk and a one-out double by Pedro Alvarez put runners at second and third with one out. Cessa escaped the jam by getting J.J. Hardy to pop-up and Francisco Pena to strike out. The game was very still much up for grabs at that point.

Machado is going to hit dingers. Thankfully he hit them in a game in which the Yankees scored a ton runs. Otherwise Cessa was really impressive because he again worked quick, pitched inside, and used four pitches. In fact, PitchFX says he had five swings and misses on his fastball, eight on his slider, two on his changeup, and one on his curveball. Getting whiffs with four different pitches is living the good life. Nice work by Cessa, Machado homers notwithstanding.


Headley and Sanchez added two-run home runs in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively, to further put the game out of reach. Sanchez has now hit eight homers in his last nine games and ten in 20 MLB games this season overall. He hit ten homers in 71 Triple-A games before being called up, you know. George Scott, Trevor Story, and Gary Sanchez. Those are the only three players in history to hit ten homers in their first 22 games. Crazy.

Every starter had at least one hit. In fact, Judge and Gregorius were the only starters without multiple hits. The 14 runs are the Yankees’ second most this season, ditto their 18 hits. They scored 16 runs against the Astros on April 6th and had 20 hits against the White Sox on July 5th. The Yankees struck out four times, including only once in the first five innings. They also went 7-for-10 (!) with runners in scoring position. The offense had it going on.

And finally, congrats to Ben Heller. He finally made his MLB debut. Heller tossed a scoreless eighth and averaged 97.3 mph with a fastball that was running all over the place. It’s kind of amazing he doesn’t walk more people with a fastball that moves that much. Seems like Heller can just throw it down the middle and let the natural movement that care of the rest. I’m looking forward to seeing him more.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, ESPN is the best place to go. has all the video highlights. Make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too. Here’s the boring (in a good way) win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Same two teams Saturday afternoon in the middle game of this three-game series. Chad Green and Dylan Bundy are the scheduled starters. The Yankees are home this weekend, but they’ll head out on a six-game road trip Monday, so check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch Saturday’s or Sunday’s games at Yankee Stadium.

DotF: Torres and Amburgey homer in Tampa’s win

Two quick notes:

  • LHP Dietrich Enns will work out of the bullpen for the foreseeable future, reports Shane Hennigan. The Yankees are limiting his innings. Enns has already thrown a career high 131 innings this season — his previous career high was 100.1 innings way back in 2012 — and he just came back from Tommy John surgery last year.
  • LHP Jordan Montgomery made an appearance in today’s Prospect Report, so check that out. He’s been phenomenal since arriving in Triple-A and is putting himself in position to be a call-up candidate at some point next season.

Triple-A Scranton (7-1 loss to Rochester) their magic number is three, but all they need to do is beat Rochester once this weekend to clinch a postseason spot … their canceled game Sunday means Rochester would not be able to catch Scranton in the loss column as soon as the RailRiders get that one win

  • Ben Gamel & DH Kyle Higashioka: both 0-4, 1 K — Gamel’s hitting streak was snapped at 15 games
  • RF Cesar Puello: 3-4
  • LF Clint Frazier: 0-4, 2 K
  • LHP Richard Bleier: 4 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 5/1 GB/FB — 50 of 69 pitches were strikes (72%) … getting stretched out now so he can be the long man in September
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 2 IP, zeroes, 3 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 22 of 34 pitches were strikes (65%) … 41/20 K/BB in 43.1 innings here
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K — 26 of 46 pitches were strikes (57%)
  • RHP Jonathan Holder: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — eleven of 18 pitches were strikes (61%) … 89/7 K/BB in 61.1 total innings this season, which is bonkers

[Read more…]

Game 127: The Biggest Series of the Season (To Date)


Welcome to the most important series of the season. To date, anyway. The Yankees are chasing the Orioles (and the Tigers, Mariners, Royals, and Astros too) in the wildcard race and the O’s are in the Bronx this weekend for a three-game set. This is a chance to gain a lot of ground, even if the Yankees still have a relatively small chance at the postseason. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. DH Chase Headley
  8. RF Aaron Judge
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Luis Cessa

It’s cloudy and really warm in New York today. There’s no rain in the forecast though, so that’s good. Tonight’s series opener will begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on WPIX. Enjoy the game.

Notes: Sad news: Brian McCann‘s grandmother passed away and he is away from the team. He could return as soon as tomorrow, Joe Girardi said … Girardi also said there is a “distinct possibility” Bryan Mitchell will pitch in the big leagues this season. Mitchell (toe) was recently activated off the 60-day DL and optioned to Triple-A so he could continue to make up for lost innings.

8/26 to 8/28 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles

(Mitchell Layton/Getty)
(Mitchell Layton/Getty)

The calendar says August, but the Yankees are playing postseason baseball right now. They’re 4.5 games back of the second wildcard spot at the moment, and it just so happens the team they are chasing, the Baltimore Orioles, will be in the Bronx for three games this weekend. Pretty big series, yes? Yes. The Yankees are 5-5 against the O’s this season, including 3-1 at Yankee Stadium.

What Have They Done Lately?

August has not been kind to the Orioles, who are 11-12 this month and have gone from one game up in the division to one game back with both the Red Sox and Blue Jays ahead of them. The O’s got shut out by the Nationals yesterday to fall to 70-57 with a +24 run differential on the season. I have to say, I never thought they would have this much success this season given the state of their rotation.

Offense & Defense

Baltimore is in the race despite their shaky rotation (4.89 ERA and 4.72 FIP) because they do score plenty of runs. They average 4.73 runs per game with a team 103 wRC+, and they lead all of baseball with 197 home runs. Dingers are their thing. The Orioles only have one injured position player: Rule 5 Draft pick and reserve OF Joey Richard (85 wRC+), who is out long-term with a damaged thumb ligament.

Trumbo. (Rob Carr/Getty)
Trumbo. (Rob Carr/Getty)

Manager Buck Showalter has been batting CF Adam Jones (103 wRC+) leadoff since late-May despite his less than stellar on-base ability (.317 OBP this year). Lately LF Hyun-Soo Kim (129 wRC+) and UTIL Steve Pearce (136 wRC+) have been platooning in the second spot of the lineup. Megastar 3B Manny Machado (137 wRC+) hits third and 1B Chris Davis (113 wRC+) and RF Mark Trumbo (122 wRC+) follow as the fourth and fifth hitters. Scary lineup is scary.

2B Jonathan Schoop (109 wRC+) and SS J.J. Hardy (86 wRC+) are the middle infielders, and C Matt Wieters (80 wRC+) is the regular catcher. DH Pedro Alvarez (118 wRC+) starts against righties and sits against lefties. On the bench is where you’ll find OF Nolan Reimold (80 wRC+), UTIL Ryan Flaherty (65 wRC+), and backup C Francisco Pena (49 wRC+). Francisco is Tony’s son, you know. This much is certain: the O’s have a ton of power throughout their lineup. A ton.

Defensively, the O’s are very good up the middle with Wieters, Hardy, Schoop, and Jones. Machado is outstanding at third base and Davis is underrated at first. Trumbo is a nightmare in right and none of the guys they use in left are anything to write home about. It’s a solid team defense overall with a glaring weakness in right.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7:05pm ET): TBA vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (vs. NYY)
Things have not gone well for the 30-year-old Gallardo in 2016. First he flunked his physical and had to accept a reduced contract offer. Then he missed a bunch of time with a shoulder problem. When he has been healthy enough to pitch, Gallardo has put up a 5.08 ERA (5.02 FIP) in 17 starts and 90.1 innings. His peripheral stats are thoroughly mediocre: 15.5% strikeouts, 12.2% walks, 42.8% grounders, and 1.10 HR/9. Both lefties and righties have hit him hard this year. Gallardo’s four-seamer and sinker sit right around 90 mph, and his trademark slider is still humming in around 87 mph. He’ll also throw mid-80s changeups and upper-70s curveballs. The Yankees scored four runs in seven innings against Gallardo last month, the only time they’ve faced him this year.

Saturday (1:05pm ET): TBA vs. RHP Dylan Bundy (vs. NYY)
Man, I thought Bundy was going to be a star back in the day. He still might be down the road, but injuries and the Curse of Orioles Pitching Prospects™ have gotten in the way. So far this season the still only 23-year-old Bundy has a 3.33 ERA (4.40 FIP) in 81 innings spread across eight starts and 22 relief appearances. He moved into the rotation right out of the All-Star break and has a 3.56 ERA (5.03 FIP) in those eight starts. Bundy has a very nice strikeout rate (24.1%) as a starter, though his walk (8.1%), grounder (39.7%), and homer (1.88 HR/9) numbers need work. Righties have actually hit him harder than lefties this season. As a starter, Bundy works with a 93-95 mph fastball as well as a mid-80s changeup and an upper-70s curveball. His best pitch in high school — Bundy was the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft, if you’re unaware — was a nasty low-90s cutter, but the O’s made him stop throwing it because they were worried he’d get hurt. So they took away his best pitch (he lost feel for it and has abandoned it all together) and he got hurt anyway. Yeah. The Yankees have seen Bundy twice this season as a reliever, scoring three runs in 3.2 total innings. This will be the first time they see him as a starter.

Bundy. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
Bundy. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

Sunday (1:05pm ET): TBA vs. RHP Kevin Gausman (vs. NYY)
Gausman, 25, is having the same kind of okay but not great but probably decent season he’s been having for about three years now. That means a 3.92 ERA (4.35 FIP) in 23 starts and 133 innings. Meh. Gausman has nice strikeout (23.1%) and walk (6.7%) rates but yucky grounder (42.3%) and homer (1.56 HR/9) rates. Again: meh. Righties have hit him much harder than lefties and that’s not unusual for Gausman because he has a nasty mid-80s splitter. That pitch is the equalizer against batters of the opposite hand. His fastball sits mid-to-high-90s and he’ll also throw some low-80s curveballs. The Yankees have seen Gausman three times this year: eight scoreless innings in April, one run in six innings in June, and two runs in 6.2 innings in July. Progress?

For whatever reason the Yankees have their entire rotation listed as TBA at the time of this writing. No idea what that’s about. Luis Cessa, Chad Green, and Michael Pineda are lined up to starting Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, respectively. Unless the Yankees use yesterday’s off-day to rearrange things, we don’t have any reason to think those three guys won’t start this weekend.

Bullpen Status

As usual, the Orioles have a pretty strong bullpen this year, though stalwart setup man RHP Darren O’Day has been limited to only 27.1 innings due to nagging hamstring and shoulder problems. He’s on the DL now and won’t be back this weekend. Maybe not even next weekend when these two clubs meet again. Here is Showalter’s relief crew:

Closer: LHP Zach Britton (0.69 ERA/1.98 FIP)
Setup: RHP Brad Brach (1.57/2.67)
Middle: LHP Donnie Hart (0.00/3.02), RHP Mychal Givens (3.17/3.42), RHP Logan Ondrusek (9.95/5.36)
Long: RHP Mike Wright (5.89/5.50), RHP Vance Worley (3.19/4.27)

Britton has been phenomenal this season. Good enough to get serious Cy Young consideration. He recently allowed his first earned run since April. The guy has a 31.0% strikeout rate and a 79.7% ground ball rate. Britton has faced 197 batters and only 26 have put the ball in play in the air. Crazy.

Only Ondrusek (32 pitches) and Wright (12 pitches) pitched last night, so Baltimore’s bullpen is in good shape coming into tonight’s series opener. The Yankees had an off-day yesterday as they flew west to east. Check out our Bullpen Workload page anyway.

Mailbag: Sanchez, McMahon, Eovaldi, Cano, CC, Rutherford

Small mailbag this week. Only ten questions. Back in the day ten questions equaled a huge mailbag. Times have changed, huh? As always, the best way to send us questions is the RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com email address. Fire away.

The moment Al passed Face of the Franchise status over to Gary. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
The moment Al passed Face of the Franchise status over to Gary. (Getty)

Many asked: Can Gary Sanchez win Rookie of the Year?

Yes he can and no he won’t. The late call-up doesn’t mean Sanchez is ineligible to receive Rookie of the Year votes or anything like that. It just means he’s going to have way fewer at-bats than other top Rookie of the Year candidates. If Sanchez plays every single game from now through the end of the season, he’ll finish with 55 games played. The fewest games played by a Rookie of the Year position player is 52 by Willie McCovey, who hit .354/.429/.656 (188 OPS+) with the 1959 Giants.

The next fewest? Eighty-eight by Ryan Howard. Sanchez winning Rookie of the Year with only 55 games played would not be completely unprecedented, but there is a reason it has only happened once. Usually there are very qualified Rookie of the Year candidates who have played a full season or at least close to one. Sanchez will get some down ballot Rookie of the Year votes if he continues at this pace, I have no doubt. Michael Fulmer and Tyler Naquin have also had incredible seasons and will finish with nearly three times as much MLB time as Sanchez. That matters.

Michael asks: Took a look at the SP market this winter. First of all, woof. Second of all…Nova might be, uh, maybe the best option, given age and injury risk (looking at you, Rich Hill and Andrew Cashner). What kind of coin does he collect, and should the Yankees consider a reunion?

Yeah, the upcoming free agent pitching class is really bad. Hill is probably the best starter on a rate basis, but there’s no reason to think he can give you 180 innings next season. Looking over at the list of free agents, Ivan Nova seems like the best reclamation project available, but because the market is so thin, I think he’s going to wind up getting paid sure thing money. Three years and $36M? The J.A. Happ deal? It wouldn’t surprise me. Nova had his first real good start with the Pirates the other day and if he can pitch to a 3.75-ish ERA the rest of the way, he’s going to get a nice contract. And no, I don’t think the Yankees should consider a reunion. Been there, done that. Onward and upward, not backward.

Andrew asks: Are the Yankees following the Cubs’ rebuild strategy? Seems like the Yanks are stacking as many young bats as they can, while the pitching is kinda light at the moment. Seems the Cubs beefed up their pitching through free agency and trades when the young guys were ready with Lester, Lackey, Arrieta, etc. Do you see the Yankees deploying the same strategy?

I think it’s just a coincidence. The Yankees did use their top draft pick in both 2014 (Jacob Lindgren) and 2015 (James Kaprielian) on pitchers, remember. (The Cubs haven’t picked a pitcher in the first round since 2010, the year before the Theo Epstein regime came in.) Plus they spent all last offseason trying to land a young controllable starter. It just so happens that right now they have a bunch of bats coming, and when they made their deadline trades, the best available players were hitters. The Cubs had no top pitching prospects to trade for Aroldis Chapman and the Indians had way more bats than arms to deal for Andrew Miller.

Building around young bats is a way better strategy than building around young arms in my opinion. Pitchers get hurt all the time. You need pitchers, sure, but they’re risky as hell. What’s the last truly great rotation three or foursome that stayed together for an extended period of time? Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito with the Athletics? Look at the Mets. Pitchers break down. It’s what they do. Add in the fact offense is down relative to where it was 5-10 years ago, and hoarding bats makes sense. The Yankees have all those young position players either in MLB or on the cusp of MLB. They’re probably going to have to go outside the organization for arms.

Chris asks (short version): What about buying low on Rockies third base prospect Ryan McMahon?

McMahon, 21, has been a top 100 prospect for a few years now — Baseball America ranked him No. 43 prior to this season — because he has huge power and it plays in games. He came into this season as a career .295/.374/.521 (140 wRC+) hitter with 48 homers in 327 pro games, all at High-A and below.  This year McMahon is hitting a weak .239/.327/.387 (99 wRC+) with ten homers in 121 Double-A games, however.

McMahon. (Chet Strange/Hartford Courant)
McMahon. (Chet Strange/Hartford Courant)

There are two ways to look at this. One, McMahon’s struggles are the result of the Hartford Yard Goats’ stadium situation. They don’t have one. The team has been on the road all season a la the 2012 Scranton Yankees. Scranton was on the road because the ballpark was being renovated. Hartford is on the road because of political and legal issues with their currently under construction ballpark. (Actually, construction has stopped for the time being.) Playing on the road all the time stinks.

And two, McMahon is getting exposed by advanced pitchers. He’s had swing-and-miss issues throughout his career — his strikeout rate by level: 23.5% (rookie), 25.9% (Low-A), 27.5% (High-A), and 30.3% (Double-A) — and there’s some length to his swing. McMahon has big time power and he has the tools to be a good third baseman, though there are definite red flags here. The ballpark situation is a convenient excuse, but is it the right excuse?

The Rockies are pretty darn good at developing position players, and while being open to trading McMahon could raise an eyebrow (what do they know that we don’t?), we have to remember Nolan Arenado is going nowhere at third base. McMahon is blocked — the Rockies have introduced him to first base this season, for what it’s worth — and trading him would make complete sense. I don’t know what a fair trade would be, but if the Rockies do put McMahon out there, the Yankees should look into it. His lefty pop is legit. He’s not without risk though.

Michael asks: Eovaldi – would you offer Eovaldi a 2 year deal similar to Jon Lieber i believe for (2003-2004). Pay him the minimum for 2017 with an incentive if he’s able to pitch in September. then a reasonable low base salary for 2018 with more incentives?

Yes, though I don’t think the league minimum is going to cut it at this point. The Royals have set the market for really injured pitchers the last two offseasons. Two years ago they signed Kris Medlen to a two-year, $8.5M deal as he rehabbed from his second Tommy John surgery. This past offseason they signed Mike Minor to a two-year, $7.5M deal as he rehabbed from shoulder surgery. Eovaldi is probably looking at similar money.

Of course, Medlen and Minor are cautionary tales. Medlen has been pretty bad since coming back from his second elbow reconstruction (5.12 ERA and 4.44 FIP) and Minor is getting knocked around on his rehab assignment. The second Tommy John surgery is much riskier than the first. I don’t think there’s any way you could expect Eovaldi to pitch next season. Pushing him back that quickly would be dangerous. Whoever signs him will do so hoping he’s ready to go come Spring Training 2018. I’d be cool with giving him two years and $8M or so with the understanding you’ll get nothing in 2017.

Carl asks: Given that Cano was never a top 100 prospect, are there any prospects in the system that could be very underrated right now?

Robinson Cano should have been a top 100 prospect in 2005. He was the top prospect in the organization at the time, and a near-MLB ready middle infielder who can hit to all fields should be a top 100 guy. Alas. Anyway, I’m sticking with Tyler Wade as my underrated prospect even though I’ve ranked him pretty high recently. He’s not going to hit for power. That’s just not his game. But Wade has the bat control and plate discipline to hit leadoff, plus he’s a really good defensive shortstop. He’s almost like the shortstop version of Brett Gardner, or at least the Brett Gardner who came up through the system. (Gardner has exceeded all expectations as a big leaguer.) Wade’s a bit of a boring answer but I really believe in him. He’s going to start for someone for a long time.

Michael asks: With Gary Sanchez wearing #24 it got me thinking, does Robinson Cano ever go into Monument Park? Despite leaving for more money, Cano’s peak year were the best second baseman seasons in Yankee history and he won a championship here.

I think he should. Cano is no worse than the fourth best second baseman in franchise history behind Willie Randolph, Tony Lazzeri, and Joe Gordon. Lazzeri and Gordon are in the Hall of Fame but not Monument Park. Randolph is in Monument Park but not the Hall of Fame. Go figure. Cano is the best hitting second baseman in team history in terms of batting average (.309), homers (204), OPS (.860), OPS+ (126), and wRC+ (126), and he was the Yankees’ best player from 2010-13. He has the World Series ring plus five All-Star Game appearances and four top six finishes in the MVP voting. So he left as a free agent. Who cares? Cano is arguably the best second baseman in franchise history and that makes him Monument Park worthy in my book. Will he get in? My guess right now is no.

Robbie. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
Robbie. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Michael asks: What’s a manager worth if you could value you them by WAR? I’m sure it’s tough to put a value on a manager and I think that there are numerous ways with which measure a teams performance but is there a way to measure the day in and day out impact on the team and individual players and come up with a true value?

I’ve long believed that a bad manager can cause more losses than a good manager can create more wins. It’s not just bad lineup decisions and pitching changes. Bad managers typically have unhappy clubhouses, and when the players aren’t happy, they don’t perform. We’ve seen it countless times over the years. A good manager keeps his players happy and motivated in addition to making smart strategic moves. My guess — and this is a total guess — is a good manager can be worth something like 3-4 wins over the season while a bad manager could cost the team upwards of 7-8 wins. That sound reasonable?

Adam asks: Has CC’s 2017 option officially vested now that there are officially less than 45 days left in the season? ( the stipulation was spend more than 45 days on the DL for there to be a buyout, i believe) Thanks

No because only one of the three conditions of CC Sabathia‘s vesting option has to be met, not all three. Here are the the conditions of the option. As soon as one happens, the vesting option becomes a club option, which the Yankees can buy out for $5M (they can’t buy out the option if it vests):

  1. Sabathia does not end 2016 on the DL with a shoulder injury.
  2. Sabathia does not spend more than 45 days on the DL with a shoulder injury.
  3. Sabathia does not make more than six relief appearances due to a shoulder injury.

As Adam said, the second condition is no longer a possibility. There are 37 days left in the regular season and Sabathia has not been on the DL with a shoulder issue at all. He could still finish the season on the DL with a shoulder injury though, which would void the option. Ditto the six relief appearances thing.

Teams typically do not place players on the DL in September because there’s no need with expanded rosters. If Sabathia does hurt his shoulder and it’s minor, say inflammation or something like that, would they put him on the DL to prevent the option from vesting? The MLBPA wouldn’t like that. I think it would have to be something serious like a tear. Something serious enough to put Sabathia on the 60-day DL so they could clear a 40-man roster spot for another player.

Marc asks: Blake Rutherford. Is he the prospect with the highest ceiling and could he be a fast riser in the system? He seems like he may be the best bat in the system since Nick Johnson.

Rutherford’s in the conversation for sure. Guys like Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres and Jorge Mateo have crazy high ceilings as well though, and they are closer to the show than Rutherford, which is why I have them ranked higher at the moment. The kid can really hit and I do think he’ll be a fast riser relative to other high school draftees. I could see Rutherford blowing through Low-A and High-A next season, then starting 2018 as a 20-year-old in Double-A. He might be my favorite prospect in the system right now.