I have this buddy — most of you probably know him — who IMs me at least once a week clamoring for the Yankees to sign Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales.
Drew we know makes some level of sense. The Yankees still need some infield help. Despite his relative health so far, and his improving performance, they can’t ignore the injury risk of Brian Roberts. Fun as he’s been to watch, Yangervis Solarte could go away at any time. The Yankees can’t really afford that kind of drop-off at this point.
Once they signed Carlos Beltran, Morales didn’t make sense for the Yanks. They had Mark Teixeira installed at first base, and with four outfielders they had their DH needs covered. There just weren’t enough at-bats for a guy who certainly deserves them. There was always the “if Mark Teixeira misses significant time” caveat, but other than that there wasn’t much connection between Morales and the Yankees.
Beltran’s injury changes the scene a bit. If he does require immediate surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow, the Yankees have room to add a bat. With two MLB players waiting for a team to sign them, the Yankees have a perfect opportunity to improve.
Morales: DH and spelling Teixeira
The Yankees need a healthy Teixeira if they’re going to make a run at the postseason. They’ve already missed him for two weeks. To lose him again, especially with Beltran out, would further cripple the offense. We got a little scare earlier this week, when Teixeira sat out a game and complaining of tired legs. He ran poorly, even for himself, during the weekend series in Milwaukee.
Adding Morales gives Girardi a viable backup for Teixeira. Playing Morales at first allows Teixeira to take a full day off, or to rest up a bit at DH. Kelly Johnson could do that, sure, but what happens if Roberts gets hurt? Johnson can’t play the entire right side of the infield.
Morales’s primary role would be at DH, with Alfonso Soriano taking over in right field. His arm might not be fit for the job, but he’s shown considerably more range than Beltran this season. It’s a trade-off that the Yankees will have to take. They can still get Soriano days at DH and on the bench, as he’s been doing all year. That will free up some at-bats for Ichiro as well.
Drew: Mitigating Jeter
The rise of Solarte has made the Yankees infield a bit better than we anticipated going into the season. Unfortunately, Jeter’s defense has been even worse than imagined. The pitching staff has had its troubles, and it’s tough to blame the entire problem on shaky infield defense, but it sure hasn’t helped them. Drew is no defensive wizard, but he represents an upgrade over the current corps.
Signing Drew only works if Girardi makes Jeter the primary DH in Beltran’s absence. Perhaps Jeter can stay fresher if he’s off the field, providing a bit more offense than he is now. Drew plays his natural position, at which his bat provides the most value.
Given the state of the Yankees infield, there doesn’t need to be a very strong case made for Drew. He’d help.
What about pitching?
With three-fifths of the Opening Day rotation on the DL, the Yankees might need some pitching help. We know Ivan Nova is lost for the season. Who knows if CC Sabathia, with a degenerative knee condition, or Michael Pineda, with an injury so close to his surgically repaired right shoulder will come back — let alone come back and pitch effectively. If the Yankees are going to open their wallets, shouldn’t it aid the pitching staff?
In an ideal world, sure. But in the real world, there aren’t any major league caliber pitchers on the free agent market. A few might become available in July, but the Yankees can’t count on that. They have to take measures to improve the team where they can when the opportunities arise. Right now, the opportunities lie in Drew and Morales.
There is little to no chance the Yankees sign both, giving up their second- and third-round draft picks in the process. (Unless Boras comes up with one of his creative package deals, a la Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez.) Either could help the Yankees if Beltran misses significant time. Strangely enough, it might even make them a more balanced team in the process.
The Yankees had a very position player heavy farm system coming into the season. In my stupid little Preseason Top 30 Prospects List, their top six and ten of their top 14 prospects were position players. Two of the four pitchers in the top 14 are with Low-A Charleston and another is an injury prone Triple-A reliever. The other is lefty Manny Banuelos, who was the team’s top prospect as recently as 2012.
Banuelos hurt his elbow twice during that 2012 season — first he suffered a bone bruise, then he tore his UCL during the rehab and needed Tommy John surgery — and he did not pitch at all last year. Banuelos missed close to two full seasons due to the injuries but he is fully healthy now and back pitching in the minors. Last night’s two-out, three-walk outing was a disaster, but overall he has 23 strikeouts and eight walks in 22.1 innings this year, which is pretty good following elbow reconstruction.
The Yankees have limited Banuelos to short, three-inning outings for the most part. Considering there is a lot of talk right now about the recent rash of second Tommy John surgeries (Jarrod Parker, Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Cory Luebke, Daniel Hudson, etc.) stemming from teams and players being too aggressive during the first Tommy John surgery rehab process, I’m glad the Yankees are taking it slow with Banuelos. Here is his game log:
|1||2014-04-03||Tampa Yankees||@||Lakeland Flying Tigers||3.0||0||0||0||1||3||0||0||10|
|2||2014-04-08||Tampa Yankees||@||Clearwater Threshers||3.0||4||0||0||0||2||0||1||14|
|3||2014-04-13||Tampa Yankees||Daytona Cubs||3.0||0||0||0||0||6||0||0||9|
|4||2014-04-19||Tampa Yankees||@||Daytona Cubs||0.2||5||4||4||0||1||0||0||7|
|5||2014-04-24||Tampa Yankees||@||Lakeland Flying Tigers||3.0||1||0||0||1||2||0||0||10|
|6||2014-04-29||Trenton Thunder||@||New Hampshire Fisher Cats||3.0||2||0||0||0||4||0||0||11||40||29|
|7||2014-05-04||Trenton Thunder||Richmond Flying Squirrels||3.0||2||2||2||1||3||1||1||13||58||35|
|8||2014-05-09||Trenton Thunder||Reading Fightin Phils||3.0||3||2||2||2||2||0||0||13||48||31|
|9||2014-05-14||Trenton Thunder||Erie SeaWolves||0.2||2||2||2||3||0||0||0||7||33||17|
Banuelos was scheduled to work three innings in that April 19th start but got knocked out early because his pitch count was getting out of control. The same thing happened last night, though according to Nick Peruffo, Banuelos was scheduled to throw four innings for the first time this season. (He was scheduled to throw innings five through eight following Bryan Mitchell, who started and is working his way back from his own elbow injury.)
The Yankees took it very easy on Banuelos for the first five or so weeks of the season but now they are beginning to stretch him out. I’m sure he’ll throw four innings a handful of times before progressing up to five innings and eventually six. Obviously they’re doing this because of the elbow surgery, but that’s not the only reason. Banuelos is on some unknown innings limit this year and the Yankees want to make sure there are plenty available later in the season so he could help the big league team down the stretch.
“He’ll increase (the length of his outings) over the course of the year,” said VP of Baseball Ops Marks Newman to Chad Jennings recently. “We don’t want to cut back at the end of the year. You never know, if he makes great progress, maybe he’s a Major League option (at some point). We don’t want to run out of innings by September 1st or August 1st … We’re going to make sure we have enough innings left at the end of the year.”
The idea of taking it easy early in the season so there are plenty of innings left later in the year always makes me a little nervous because Banuelos could get hurt at some point — not necessarily re-injure the elbow, he could roll an ankle covering first base or something — and then he falls short of his prescribed innings total, leaving everyone stuck doing this again next year. I usually like getting the innings in early and shutting the guy down in the second half, especially prospects. That said, Banuelos is returning from a long layoff and major surgery, so I’m more than fine with it in this situation. That he might be in position to help the MLB squad in the second half is just a bonus.
Banuelos was said to be very advanced for his age — he just turned 23 in March even though it feels like he’s been around forever — before the injury but he was not big league ready, pitching to a 4.32 ERA (~3.88 FIP) with a 10.9% walk rate and a 1.83 K/BB ratio in 58.1 Triple-A innings before getting hurt. He had a 2.89 ERA (~3.45 FIP) with a 9.0% walk rate and a 2.73 K/BB ratio in 311 combined minor league innings before getting to Triple-A, so his trademark command had deserted him a bit. That’s one of the things he will need to iron out in the coming weeks before becoming a legitimate big league option.
The good thing is that Banuelos’ stuff has returned following elbow surgery, which is something we take for granted at times. Baseball America ranked him as the team’s 11th best prospect before the season and noted he was sitting “at 93-94 in simulated games last fall” in their Prospect Handbook, plus we saw him throw both his changeup and curveball in Spring Training. Harnessing that stuff is his biggest issue and that’s where the injury really hurts. It’s a lot of lost development time. He has to make up for a lot of lost innings.
Most importantly, Banuelos is healthy. He’s healthy and he’s pitching, something he wasn’t able to do for nearly two years. (Sunday is the two-year anniversary of the last time he pitched before this season.) Helping the Yankees later this season would be some major icing on the cake and I don’t think the team should be counting on him as anything more than a token September call-up. I know the big league staff is a bit of a wreck and the carrot has been dangled, but right now Banuelos should be focused on improving his command, getting innings under his belt, and putting himself in position to make the 2015 team. It looks like he is very much back on track following the elbow problems. It’s exactly what the Yankees wanted and needed to see from him this year.
It’s only Mid-May, but the Yankees have already used seven different starters — all of them have made multiple starts too — this season. They will use their eighth starter tonight, when right-hander Chase Whitley makes his big league debut in the Subway Series finale. It remains to be seen how the Yankees will make room for him on the 40-man roster (Bruce Billings to the 60-day DL?), but Joe Girardi already confirmed he will get the start. It’ll happen somehow.
If you had told me about a year ago the 24-year-old Whitley would make his Major League debut as a starting pitching pitcher, I would have thought you were nuts. He was a reliever all through college — Whitley was actually more highly regarded as a hitter at Southern Union State Community College before focusing on pitching full-time during his junior season at Troy — and 135 of his first 138 pro appearances came as a reliever. The three starts were just spot starts in doubleheaders, nothing fancy.
Whitley made five starts for Triple-A Scranton at the end of last season out of necessity; they simply had no one else to start due to injuries and call-ups late in the year. He managed a 1.64 ERA with 18 strikeouts and five walks in 22 innings in those five starts, and impressed enough that the Yankees gave him another chance to start in 2014. In six starts this year, Whitley has a 1.61 ERA with 28 strikeouts and six walks in 22.1 innings. That put him on the map for a call up.
The move into the rotation worked (at least so far) because Whitley was not your typical bullpen prospect. Guys like Mark Montgomery and Danny Burawa are two-pitch pitchers with nasty breaking balls. That’s not Whitley. I ranked him as the team’s 25th best prospect before last season and here’s part of what I wrote:
A three-pitch reliever who isn’t a blow-you-away type, Whitley lives in the low-90s with his fastball and backs it up with both a slider and changeup. His control is fine and his delivery creates some deception. He doesn’t offer the same kind of exciting, shutdown reliever potential as some other players on this list, but Whitley is a big and physical — listed at 6-foot-3 and 215 lbs. — right-hander who throws strikes and works both sides of the plate. He’ll pitch in the big leagues at some point as long as he stays healthy, possibly before the All-Star break.
My timetable was off, but hey, Whitley is a big leaguer. Baseball America ranked him as the club’s 29th best prospect before the 2012 season and said “both his changeup and slider are plus pitches at their best” in their Prospect Handbook. Whitley has a weapon for righties (slider) and a weapon for lefties (changeup), plus there’s a little funk in his delivery. (He pitches from the stretch exclusively from what I understand.) Here’s some video from earlier this month in which you can see all three pitches in action:
Because he’s only been a starter for a few months, it’s really tough to know what to expect out of Whitley tonight. There’s no track record. I thought he was going to be a good middle reliever and now he’s in the rotation. It’s weird. Whitley was passed over in the Rule 5 Draft this past offseason, which is an indication of how the rest of the league views him. If he succeeds as a starter, even temporarily, it will be quite an accomplishment on his part and a big developmental win for the Yankees. We’re talking about a former 15th round pick here.
Yesterday we learned CC Sabathia has a “degenerative change” in his twice surgically repaired right knee and I don’t know what that means, but I know it sounds scary. He could be out longer than the minimum 15 days. Vidal Nuno has gotten roughed up in three of his five starts (and four of his last six appearances overall) and David Phelps has had one good start and one bad start so far. Hiroki Kuroda‘s been inconsistent at best and very ineffective at worst. The non-Masahiro Tanaka portion of the rotation is a mess right now.
That mess of a rotation is the opportunity of a lifetime for Whitley. The bar has been set quite low and he won’t have to do much to stick with the big league team. A good start tonight means he’ll get another one, almost guaranteed, and stringing a few good starts together means he’ll stick around for a while, even if it is only as a long reliever. The pitching staff is the land of opportunity right now. Whitley was in his third straight year at Triple-A and facing a stalled out career a few days ago. Now he has a change to help the Yankees win games and help himself secure a big league roster spot.
No matter how long the losing streak gets and no matter how much the other starters get knocked around, every fifth day there is Masahiro Tanaka to make things right. The Yankees ace chucked his first career MLB shutout on Wednesday night, carrying his team to a 4-0 win over the Mets. It was their first Subway Series win since 2012. I’m taking about an individual game, not the whole season series.
The Yankees have won five games in the month of May and Tanaka has been on the mound for three of them. He was in total control on Wednesday, basically playing a game of catch with catcher Brian McCann and having his way with opposing hitters all night. Tanaka allowed three singles and one double in his nine scoreless innings, striking out eight and generating 22 swings and misses out of 114 low-stress pitches. He face the minimum three hitters in six of nine innings and only faced four batters in the other three innings.
The Mets did not have a runner reach third base against Tanaka and only two made it as far as second. Tanaka threw a first pitch strike to 21 of 30 batters and only went to three three-ball counts all night. By Game Score (87), this was the best pitched game by a Yankees starter since … Tanaka last month. He also had an 87 Game Score in that game against the Cubs (8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 10 K). Tanaka is the first Yankee with two 87+ Game Scores in a single season since Mike Mussina in 2002. It’s only May.
And just because what he did on the mound wasn’t enough, Tanaka slapped a ground ball single back up the middle for his first career MLB hit in the ninth inning. You know a pitcher has done his job when he get four at-bats in a game. Tanaka was masterful, putting hitters away with every pitch in his arsenal — he got a swing-and-miss with five different pitches and at least six whiffs with three different pitches (four-seamer, splitter, slider) according to Brooks Baseball — and never once ran into trouble. This guy is in total control when he’s on the mound. It’s a blast to watch.
One Run, Four Times
The Yankees built something of a picket fence in the middle innings, scoring one run in each of the second, fourth, sixth, and seventh innings. The first run scored because Mets left fielder Eric Young Jr. made the bone-headed decision to dive for a soft line drive, only to fall short and watch the ball scoot by him for a Brian Roberts triple. Yangervis Solarte drew a walk before that and came around to score. There were two outs in the inning and Tanaka was due to hit. Why in the world is he diving? Whatever.
The second and third runs were pretty straight forward: Solarte jumped all over a 3-1 fastball for his fourth homer — if he starts regularly hitting dingers, oh boy — and Mark Teixeira yanked a 1-0 pitch out into the bullpen for his team-leading eighth homer. Solarte’s was a annihilated and he hit it with style too, dropping to one knee a la Adrian Beltre. Here is the requisite GIF:
The Yankees scored their fourth run with two hits that traveled maybe 100 feet combined. Brett Gardner beat out an infield single to second base, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Derek Jeter‘s chopper out in front of the plate. The throw pulled first baseman Lucas Duda off the bag and Jeter was safe, which was good because they were two outs in the inning. I wonder if Joe Girardi would have gone to David Robertson in the ninth inning if the score was 3-0 instead of 4-0? I guess we’ll never know.
The Yankees had at least one man on base in seven of nine innings and really worked rookie right-hander Rafael Montero hard early on. He threw 69 pitches in the first three innings — at one point he and Tuesday’s starter Zack Wheeler had combined to throw 187 pitches to get 22 outs — and wound up throwing 108 pitches in six innings. He faced 25 hitters and had to throw at least four pitches to 14 of them. The Yankees really wore Montero down in his MLB debut. They have now scored at least four runs in each of their last eight games, their longest such streak since doing it in 12 straight back in July 2012.
Roberts went 2-for-4 with two triples, the first two-triple game of his career. He was pretty awesome and fast back in the day. I figured he would have had two triples in one game at some point, but I guess not. It’s the first two-triple game by a Yankee since Curtis Granderson in 2010. Gardner had two more hits and is 22-for-62 (.355) in his last 16 games. Jeter (single), Teixeira (homer), Solarte (homer), and Tanaka (single) had the other hits while Jacoby Ellsbury and Solarte drew walks.
The daily defensive miscue did not come back to bite the Yankees on Wednesday. In the bottom of the first, as he was trotting out to shallow right field for the shift, Solarte got caught with his back to infield and Daniel Murphy stole second base uncontested. The Mets tried it again in the fifth inning, but Solarte was paying attention and he got to the bag in time to receive the throw and tag out Chris Young.
And finally, Tanaka is pretty awesome. I just needed to say that again. I’m sure you understand.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. For some additional stats, go to FanGraphs. For the updated standings, go to ESPN. The Yankees have lost nine of their last 14 games are still a half-game back of the Orioles for the division lead. The AL East sucks this year.
The Yankees and Mets wrap up the 2014 Subway Series on Thursday night at Citi Field. The starters — Chase Whitley and Jacob deGrom — will both be making their MLB debuts. It will be the first time two starters make their big league debut in one game since September 2010 (Dillon Gee and Yunesky Maya) according to @BRefPlayIndex. Neat. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the game live.
OF Slade Heathcott (knee) will be activated off the disabled list by Double-A Trenton tomorrow, according to Matt Kardos. Hooray for that. Also, in today’s Minor League Roundup, Josh Norris notes RHP Luis Severino ran his fastball up to 99 mph during last night’s outing.
Triple-A Scranton (3-2 loss to Lehigh Valley)
- 2B Scott Sizemore: 0-3, 1 RBI
- SS Dean Anna: 0-4, 1 K
- CF Adonis Garcia: 2-4, 1 R, 1 3B — 20-44 (.455) during his eleven-game hitting streak
- 1B Kyle Roller: 1-4, 2 K
- C Austin Romine: 1-2 — left the game in the sixth inning with an injured hand … not sure if it was a foul tip or what, but hopefully he’s okay
- RHP Joel De La Cruz: 7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 15/5 GB/FB — 59 of 90 pitches were strikes (66%) … 69/20 K/BB this season (3.45)
- RHP Branden Pinder: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB – ten of 13 pitches were strikes (77%) … 21/2 K/BB in 20 total innings this season
7:01pm: In a follow up, Marakovits notes Sabathia’s knee is structurally fine and stable. Carlos Beltran and Hideki Matsui are among those who have the same issue and have been fine with treatment.
6:38pm: According to Meredith Marakovits, Brian Cashman confirmed CC Sabathia has degenerative changes in his ailing right knee. He will receive a cortisone shot with stem cells tomorrow and there is no timetable for his return.
Just yesterday we heard Dr. Andrews confirmed Sabathia’s original knee inflammation diagnosis, but inflammation is just a symptom, not the cause of the problem. Sabathia is a big dude and he’s been coming down hard on that right knee (his landing knee) for years. It’s no surprise it’s starting to give out. Hopefully the stem cells work as well as they did for Bartolo Colon a few years ago. · (31) ·
The current rotation has a very 2008 vibe to it, with Masahiro Tanaka playing the role of Mike Mussina and Michael Pineda playing the role of Chien-Ming Wang. Once Wang went down, the rotation was Moose and pray for rain that year. It was pretty ugly, especially in the second half. Right now it’s Tanaka and no one else. He’s the only guy in the rotation who legitimately gives the club a chance to win each time out.
The Mets, meanwhile, are starting rookie righty Rafael Montero tonight. He will be the fifth pitcher to make his MLB debut during the Subway Series and the first since David Robertson in 2008. The others: Tyler Clippard, Brandon Claussen, and someone named Jaime Cerda. Baseball America ranked Montero as the 68th best prospect in the game before the season but I thought they underrated him a bit. He’s the steady, reliable one while Noah Syndergaard is more flashy and exciting. Think of Montero as Matt Cain and Syndergaard as Tim Lincecum.
Anyway, here is a breakdown of Montero courtesy of MLB Farm. The Yankees have lost each of their last four games overall and each of their last six games to the Mets, dating back to last season. That’s pretty annoying. Hopefully Tanaka takes care of business. Here is the Mets lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- DH Alfonso Soriano
- 3B Yangervis Solarte
- 2B Brian Roberts
- RHP Masahiro Tanaka
It has been cloudy and cool in New York all day, but there’s no rain in the forecast. Tonight’s game will air on both My9 and SNY locally as well as ESPN nationally. First pitch is scheduled for 7pm ET. Enjoy.
Injury Updates: Ichiro Suzuki (back) feels better but is still questionable for tonight’s game. He did some running and hit in the batting cage both today and yesterday … Carlos Beltran (elbow) received treatment and feels “a little better,” though he remains in wait-and-see mode … the Yankees still have four available bench players even with Ichiro and Beltran banged up, so they’re in decent shape for the DH-less game.
Bullpen Update: There were no roster moves made, so Alfredo Aceves and Matt Daley remain on the roster despite yesterday’s extended outings. David Phelps did not throw his usual between starts side session and can throw an inning or two tonight, if need be.
Mets Rotation Update: The Mets placed right-hander Dillon Gee on the 15-day DL with a lat strain this afternoon. Righty Jacob deGrom will start tomorrow night’s Subway Series finale in his place. It will be his MLB debut.
Erick Fedde | RHP
Fedde was born and raised in Las Vegas, and he passed on signing with the Padres as a 24th round pick in 2011. He jumped right into the UNLV rotation and had a 3.76 ERA with a 149/61 K/BB in 186.2 innings as a freshman and sophomore. Fedde had a 1.76 ERA with 82 strikeouts and 21 walks in 76.2 innings this spring before blowing out his elbow last week and needing Tommy John surgery.
Tall and skinny at 6-foot-4 and 180 lbs., Fedde sits in the low-90s and touches 95-96 with his fastball when healthy. His go-to secondary pitch is a low-80s slider he can throw for called strikes or bury in the dirt for swings and misses. It’s a legit big league out pitch on its best days. Fedde’s changeup is an average pitch more than anything. Although he does a good job of repeating his delivery, though he tends to drop his arm later in starts due to fatigue and it hurts his command. There’s a chance he winds up in the bullpen long-term. Fedde has not put on any weight during his three years in school and he isn’t guaranteed to fill out that long frame. He’s similar to Chris Sale in that regard.
In their latest rankings, Keith Law (subs. req’d), Baseball America, and MLB.com ranked Fedde as the 8th, 14th, and 28th best prospect in the draft class, respectively. That was before he blew out his elbow, however, and the injury will surely cause him to slide down some draft boards. As with ECU RHP Jeff Hoffman, a projected top five pick who recently had Tommy John surgery as well, I think the Yankees would jump all over Fedde if he fell into their lap at the 55th overall pick (their top selection following the offseason spending spree) but I suspect a team with extra picks will roll the dice first.
After these last few seasons, I find it very hard not to assume the worst when it comes to injuries. It’s not because of the Yankees either. Pitchers are dropping like flies these days, but every Tommy John surgery starts out as a twinge or some forearm tightness. Not many guys have hurt their elbow and avoided the zipper lately. Ivan Nova and Jose Campos are among its casualties. Mark Teixeira‘s and Jose Bautista’s wrist problems turned into surgery in much the same way.
So, forgive me for being worried the Yankees may soon lose Carlos Beltran for an extended period of time. He hurt his elbow taking swings in the batting cage between at-bats the other night, and while it was initially called a hyper-extension, an MRI revealed an old bone spur that just started to give him trouble. Bone spurs have a way of hiding until you move your body in some random everyday way and they rub up against stuff. The human body is weird like that.
“I just was taking swings in the cage and felt a sharp pain,” said Beltran to Chad Jennings. “Took another one and felt the same. Told [Joe Girardi] that I wasn’t going to be able to continue … I took many swings, but those two that I took there was a sharp pain that I felt that I just couldn’t continue … I just hope it just goes away … I’m hoping for the best.”
Beltran received a cortisone shot yesterday and he’s going to rest two or three days to see if that helps. From what I understand, the cortisone shot will reduce any inflammation, which could allow the spur to go back to being unnoticed. If the shot doesn’t work, however, Beltran will need surgery and will miss what I assume is several weeks. Brian Cashman told Jennings he’s unsure if it would be season-ending, if that makes you feel any better. At some point though, either in the coming weeks or long after he’s retired, Beltran’s going to need the surgery.
The Yankees sunk three years and $45M into the 37-year-old Beltran this past offseason because they needed someone just like him, a proven middle of the order bat with power and patience from both sides of the plate. Someone who they knew could handle New York and big pressure situations. For the first few weeks of the season, Beltran was exactly that, hitting .327/.368/.673 (175 wRC+). Then he flipped over the wall in Tampa and hasn’t hit a lick since. Maybe he jammed something during the fall, maybe the timing is pure coincidence. For whatever reason, he stopped hitting.
Despite that recent lack of production, losing Beltran to surgery would be a huge blow. Huge. He adds an impossible to replace element to the lineup with his professional at-bats and ability to hit for both average and power. Beltran’s literally the only guy on the roster who can do both. Ichiro Suzuki will probably see more playing time as soon as his back heals up, but if Beltran were to miss a significant amount of time, the best possible solution may be to play Alfonso Soriano in right and let Derek Jeter spend more time at DH, allowing Brendan Ryan to play shortstop and improve the defense. The Yankees can’t field worth a damn and they don’t have a bat to replace Beltran. Replacing Jeter with Ryan in the field is an upgrade, especially given the ground ball heavy pitching staff.
The Yankees have had their seemingly perpetual issues with runners in scoring position in 2014, but the offense has been effective both recently (4+ runs in seven straight games) and overall this season (4.45 runs per game). Removing Beltran from the equation will hurt the lineup, especially if the Yankees do shift Jeter to DH and play Ryan more often. Hopefully the cortisone shot will work and he can return to the lineup within the next few days. I am expecting the worst though. A bone spur in a hitter’s elbow strikes me as something that will require surgery sooner rather than later.
From the obvious news department: Brian Cashman told Brendan Kuty the Yankees are definitely open to adding pitching help from outside the organization, but the pickin’s are slim right now. “Oh, I’d be open to any external options, but they’re really hard to find this time of year,” said the GM. Not many teams are looking to trade in May thanks in part to the second wildcard spot.
Non-Masahiro Tanaka starters have a 4.95 ERA this season and I’m surprised it’s that low, to be honest. CC Sabathia (knee), Ivan Nova (elbow), and Michael Pineda (shoulder) are all on the disabled list and the Yankees will turn to converted reliever Chase Whitley on Thursday. They don’t need to add an ace, though that would be nice. Someone who goes at least five innings every fifth day with a 4.00 ERA would be a big upgrade right now. · (55) ·