Yankees designate Chris Capuano for assignment, call up Caleb Cotham

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

This isn’t unexpected following last night’s debacle. The Yankees have designated left-hander Chris Capuano for assignment, the team announced. Right-hander Caleb Cotham has been called up from Triple-A Scranton to take his spot on the roster and give the club a fresh arm in the bullpen tonight.

Capuano, 36, allowed five runs on three hits and five walks in two-thirds of an inning in last night’s spot start. When asked if he felt his roster spot was in jeopardy after the game, Capuano told reporters it is “not my area. They’re going to try to do what they can to make the team better.”

The Yankees re-signed Capuano to a one-year deal worth $5M this offseason. He was slated to be the fifth starter before suffering a quad injury covering first base in Spring Training. Adam Warren took the job and Capuano settled into a long relief role. Capuano had a 6.97 ERA (4.98 FIP) in 31 innings this year.

The move means righty Diego Moreno will hang around a little longer as the team’s long reliever. He replaced Capuano last night and chucked 5.1 no-hit innings. The score was lopsided, yeah, but Moreno had an opportunity to show the team what he can do, and he took advantage. He’ll be unavailable for a few days, however.

Cotham, 27, will be the 12th player to make his MLB debut with the Yankees this season whenever he gets into a game, and that doesn’t include Taylor Dugas, Joel De La Cruz, and Nick Goody, who were called up but didn’t play in a game. Cotham has a 2.17 ERA (2.02 FIP) with 29.1 K% and 5.5 BB% in 45.2 relief innings split between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton this year.

Cotham (fifth round) is the sixth member of the team’s 2009 draft class to reach the big leagues, joining Slade Heathcott (supplemental first), John Ryan Murphy (supplemental second), Warren (fourth), Shane Greene (15th), and Bryan Mitchell (16th). Tyler Lyons (10th) and Jake Petricka (34th) did not sign and have since reached MLB with the Cardinals and White Sox, respectively.

Poll: The Second Base Situation

Drew. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
Drew. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Yesterday afternoon, the best available second baseman came off the board when the Athletics shipped Ben Zobrist to the Royals for two pitching prospects. The Yankees reportedly had interest in Zobrist, it just didn’t come together. For shame. Zobrist was a perfect fit for the Yankees and I was really hoping they’d land him before Friday’s trade deadline.

So now the Yankees will move forward and either stick with their current second base situation or acquire … someone. The second base market is really thin now. Martin Prado is the best available option and it’s not clear whether he is even available. The Marlins could simply hold onto him for next year. Brandon Phillips is the other big name out there. Let’s run down the club’s second base options with Zobrist now off the board.

Option No. 1: Stick with Drew

The Yankees have given Stephen Drew plenty of leash so far this season — he picked up plate appearances 300 and 301 last night — and he’s rewarded them with a .187/.261/.377 (73 wRC+) batting line. The 13 homers and 9.0% walk rate are nice, but there is basically no level of defense or power that makes making an out more than 73% of the time is acceptable. A total of 160 hitters are qualified for the batting title right now. Drew’s on-base percentage would be the 92nd best batting average. Yeah, it’s bad.

Now, to be fair, Drew has been better of late. He’s hitting .226/.308/.478 (115 wRC+) in 131 plate appearances since the calendar flipped to June, with a lot of that built on his three two-homer games in June. They count! Drew just hasn’t done a whole lot aside from those games. The bat hasn’t really come around to the point where you’d safely expect him to put up league average numbers going forward, but Drew has never not been reliable in the field, even while making the transition over to second. He’s as sure-handed as they come, and with no second base options likely to put up big offensive numbers, going with the best defender is a viable strategy.

Option No. 2: Go with Refnsyder

For a total of four games, the Yankees gave top second base prospect Rob Refsnyder a shot at the job. He was called up earlier this month, played the last two games before the All-Star break and the first two games after the break, and went 2-for-12 (.167) with a homer. His defense at second was … passable. Rough around the edges is a good way to describe it. Refsnyder didn’t look too natural there. The routine seemed difficult.

Of course, Refsnyder’s calling card is not his defense, it’s his bat. He’s hitting .285/.378/.404 (131 wRC+) in 393 plate appearances at Triple-A this year and .292/.383/.428 (133 wRC+) in 726 plate appearances at the level dating back to last year, so Refsnyder’s put up good numbers at the highest level of the minors. There are reasons to believe he’d be an upgrade over Drew at the plate. As an added bonus, Refsnyder is right-handed and would balance out the lefty heavy bottom of the lineup. The Yankees seem hesitant to give Refsnyder an extended opportunity — that’s not too surprising, they prioritize defense and he doesn’t offer it — but could do so after the trade deadline.

Prado. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty)
Prado. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty)

Option No. 3: Trade for Prado

Like I said, the Marlins aren’t even committed to shopping Prado yet. Joel Sherman heard Miami will now “at least contemplate” trading Prado, which I guess is better than saying he’s off limits. He’s hitting .280/.321/.375 (92 wRC+) with 14 doubles and four homers this season, continuing a gradual decline that has seen him go from a 117 wRC+ in 2012 to 104 in 2013 to 103 in 2014 to 92 in 2015. Prado is versatile, which is nice even though we’re talking about him slotting in as the regular second baseman. Also, it’s worth noting Prado has not played second base regularly since 2010. He’s just filled in a handful of times each year. Check out our Scouting The Market post for more info on the ex-Yankee, who is also under contract next year.

Option No. 4: Trade for Phillips

At this point the rebuilding Reds would probably give Phillips away to rid themselves of the $32M they owe him through 2017. He’s hitting .273/.310/.355 (83 wRC+) so far this year, and, at age 34, his power is all but gone. His ISO has slid from .157 in 2011 to .148 in 2012 to .135 in 2013 to .103 in 2014 to .081 in 2015. That is both not a good trend and perfectly normal for a guy this age. Phillips is on the downside of his career. It’s clear as day. Peak dollars for non-peak production. But, Phillips is very available, and at this point he might be an upgrade over what the Yankees have in-house. Here’s our Scouting The Market post.

* * *

Unless a trade candidate comes out of nowhere — Dee Gordon? he just returned from his dislocated thumb — these are the four main options the Yankees have at second best now that Zobrist is off the board. I’m not sure there’s a right answer. I’m not even sure there’s much of a difference between the three when you considered expected production and acquisition costs, stuff like that. Time for a poll.

What should the Yankees do at second base?

Yankees, offense absolutely annihilate Rangers for a 21-5 victory

There are games where the offense does a pretty good job and there are ones where it absolutely explodes, and then some. Tonight falls into the latter category. After Chris Capuano gave up five runs in the first inning, the Yanks scored eleven in the second and, well, scored ten more later. The Yankees scored 21 runs in total and two relievers – Diego Moreno and Adam Warren – allowed zero hits after Capuano got knocked out.

That changeup probably didn’t get a batter out (Source: Getty)

Capuanope

Not all of us were optimistic when Joe Girardi announced Capuano would start tonight’s game. The result? Pretty, pretty bad. Capuano did not complete the first inning, walked five, allowed five earned runs, and got knocked out of the game with two outs and bases loaded after walking in a run. Yeesh. You would think that, because he had a decent 2014 showing, Capuano still has something left as a spot starter but … definitely not tonight.

After tonight’s start, the lefty has an ugly 6.97 ERA in 31.0 IP. That’s like, not ML roster-worthy at all. Not sure how long he’ll stick after tonight’s start, but fortunately for the Yanks, the offense dominated in Arlington.

Got the runs going up … on a Tuesday

It’d be excruciatingly long to summarize everything that happened in the top of the second so I’ll just leave this right here:

Martin Perez pitching for Texas NYY TEX
Young doubled to left. 0 5
Headley singled to center, Young scored. 1 5
Murphy singled to left, Headley to second. 1 5
Gregorius hit by pitch, Headley to third, Murphy to second. 1 5
Ryan doubled to right center, Headley and Murphy scored, Gregorius to third. 3 5
Ellsbury singled to center, Gregorius scored, Ryan to third. 4 5
Gardner singled to center, Ryan scored, Ellsbury to second. 5 5
Rodriguez doubled to deep left, Ellsbury scored, Gardner to third. 6 5
Rodríguez relieved Pérez. 6 5
Teixeira struck out swinging. 6 5
Young walked. 6 5
Headley singled to left, Gardner scored, Rodriguez to third, Young to second. 7 5
Murphy struck out swinging. 7 5
Gregorius tripled to deep left center, Rodriguez, Young and Headley scored. 10 5
Ryan doubled to deep left, Gregorius scored. 11 5
Ellsbury struck out swinging. 11 5
11 Runs, 10 Hits, 0 Error

Several things to note here. First, the Yankees started with eight consecutive baserunners. Eight! Second, all the outs were via swinging strikeouts, which is kind of odd considering how well the bats were squaring thing up, but baseball is weird. Third, who else would it be besides Brendan Ryan to have two extra-base hits in the same inning? Oh man, this was pretty fun to watch. The inning started with hopes to chip away piece by piece to eventually tie it up, but the Yankees totally destroyed Martin Perez and took a huge lead.

Also, geez, Perez looked decent in the first inning but had basically nothing working on in second. You thought Capuano’s game score of 21 is bad? (Well, it is actually pretty horrid) Perez has 8. So that’s that.

(Source: Getty)

At 11-5, the Yankees offense was far from done. In the top of third, New York quickly loaded the bases without an out against Wandy Rodriguez on two singles and a walk. Chris Young, who has killed lefties all season, hit one on the screws for a grand slam. 15-5 Yankees with no out in the third. Wowza.

(Source: Getty)

5.1 no-hit innings

How about Diego Moreno? The guy had toiled in minors since 2009, came over to New York as a part of the A.J. Burnett deal, and made his ML debut in June as a 27-year old. Now, as a 28-year old rookie (his birthday was a week ago), he fired 5.1 no-hit innings and saved a lot of bullpen arms from being used tonight.

Moreno is known for his big arm but he had a lot more than velocity going tonight. He went after hitters, generated swings-and-misses with his heat and secondary pitches, and, of course, located very well. The only baserunner he allowed was Shin-Soo Choo, who walked in the third. When it was all said and done, Moreno exited the game with a line of 5.1 IP, 0 H, 1 BB and 5 K’s. Pretty nice. Tonight’s performance should earn him at least few more looks up in the majors.

More runs!

In the top fourth, with runners on corners and two outs, Phil Klein induced a grounder from Chris Young and it seemed like the Rangers were actually getting out of the inning without any runs allowed … then Elvis Andrus couldn’t come up with the play. The ball hit the heel of his glove and everybody was safe. Oh, and Brett Gardner scored. 16-5 Yankees.

Top sixth, Spencer Patton replaced Klein on the mound. Gardner walked to lead off. Klein struck out A-Rod but hit Mark Teixeira on the right foot. With one out and runners on first and second, Chris Young drilled a mammoth double to left to score Gardner. 17-5 Yanks. At this point (or way before), it was pretty silly. But John Ryan Murphy joined the fun in the inning by driving in both runners with an RBI single. 19-5!

Well, you know what tends to happen when a team happens colossal amount of runs – the other team lets a position player pitch! The Rangers brought in the infielder Adam Rosales for their mound in the ninth. For a guy who just seemed to be lobbing the ball to plate, he had a decent velocity – reaching 91 mph in the FS1 gun. But that didn’t stop Gardner from hitting a big two-run homer to extend the lead 21-5.

Leftovers

Didi Gregorius had a pretty big game. He went 4-for-5, setting a career high in hits in a game. His batting average is now up to .257, which is pretty nice considering 1) he’s a shortstop 2) he was in the early-.200’s for a good chunk of the first months of the season. Great to see Didi showing some good bat as the season goes on.

Buried under Moreno’s brilliance tonight was Adam Warren’s performance. In fact, Warren threw three perfect innings. His line is as clean as it can get: 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K. He came into the game in the seventh inning and closed it out as well. Also, he got a save! The first of the season for him!

Box score, standings, highlights, WPA

Here’s tonight’s box score, updated standings, video highlights and WPA.


Source: FanGraphs


You could hypothetically expect less runs tomorrow based on the starters –  Masahiro Tanaka and Colby Lewis – but you never know, baseball is weird. Yankees play again at 8:05 PM EST tomorrow. We’ll see how fun this one gets.

DotF: Judge’s big day at the plate and in the field helps Scranton to a win

Quick note: Yankees prospects will play for the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League this year, the league announced. They suited up for the Scottsdale Scorpions the last few years. They’ll share the team with Royals, Brewers, Cardinals, and Rangers prospects. Double-A Trenton pitching coach Jose Rosado will be Surprise’s pitching coach.

Triple-A Scranton (5-3 win over Lehigh Valley)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 E (fielding) — threw a runner out at second
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder & 1B Greg Bird: both 0-4 — Refsnyder got hit by a pitch, drove in a run, and struck out … Bird walks
  • RF Aaron Judge: 2-4, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 K — also threw two runners out at second … after the game, Dave Rosengrant asked about the outfield assists, and Judge said “defense is probably one of my favorite things, except for hitting home runs, I guess”
  • C Gary Sanchez: 0-2, 1 R, 2 BB
  • LF Ramon Flores: 1-3, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • 3B Jose Pirela: 1-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
  • DH Austin Romine: 1-4, 1 RBI, 2 K — he’s having a very good year, but with Sanchez here, Romine will get the short end of the playing time stick
  • RHP Joel De La Cruz: 5 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 6/1 GB/FB — 49 of 80 pitches were strikes (61%) … gets the spot start with RHP Diego Moreno in the big leagues
  • RHP Wilking Rodriguez: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 31 of 44 pitches were strikes (70%) … 13/3 K/BB in 10.2 innings since coming back from his 80-game banned substance suspension
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 11 of 19 pitches were strikes (58%)

[Read more…]

Game 99: Bullpen Game

(Tom Pennington/Getty)
(Tom Pennington/Getty)

In the interest of self-preservation, the Yankees are pushing everyone in their rotation back a day and using a spot sixth starter tonight. Except there’s no spot starter. It’s going to be a bullpen game — Chris Capuano and Adam Warren are expected to throw roughly 50 pitches each, then the rest of the relievers will take over from there. It’s not ideal, but there aren’t any other options right now.

On the bright side, the Yankees have won eight of ten games since the All-Star break and have a nice little seven-game lead in the AL East. The division looked wide-open coming into the season and we all kinda waiting for some team to got hot and run away with things, and would you believe it, that team ended up being the Yankees. Still a lot of season left though. Seven games is a nice lead but a guarantee of nothing. Here is the Rangers’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. RF Chris Young
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. C John Ryan Murphy
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Brendan Ryan
    LHP Chris Capuano

It was another disgustingly hot day in Arlington — not that the weather in New York has been any better — and the temperatures will again be in the 90s for tonight’s game. Gross. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05pm ET and for some reason the game will air on FOX Sports 1. Not YES, not WPIX, FOX Sports 1 only. Weird. Enjoy the game.

Roster Move: Diego Moreno was called up from Triple-A Scranton and Nick Goody was optioned down, the Yankees announced. Moreno had been working as a starter for the RailRiders — though he’s not yet stretched out beyond 55 pitches or so — and is better able to give length tonight if necessary.

Injury Update: Ivan Nova said he expects to throw his regular bullpen session and make his next start after leaving last night’s game with “arm fatigue.” Apparently he’s been told it’s common for a dead arm phase to follow Tommy John surgery.

2015 Trade Deadline Open Thread: Tuesday

Price. (Presswire)
Price. (Presswire)

We are now just four days away from the 2015 non-waiver trade deadline. The Yankees stretched their AL East lead to seven games with last night’s winFanGraphs has their postseason odds at 93.8% — but they’re in no position to coast. Ivan Nova left last night’s start with “arm fatigue,” reinforcing the team’s need for pitching help. They could also use a new second baseman and maybe a righty bench bat.

On Monday we learned … well … not much we didn’t already know. The Yankees are in on just about every pitcher, starters and relievers, and they remain interested in Ben Zobrist. Possible bullpen target Tyler Clippard was traded to the Mets as well. Oh, and Troy Tulowitzki was traded to the Blue Jays last night. How about that? We’re going to keep track of all the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here, so make sure you check back often. It really feels like a deal could happen at any moment now.

  • 2:31pm ET: Ben Zobrist is heading to the Royals for two pitching prospects. That is really disappointing. He would have been a massive upgrade at second base.
  • 2:21pm ET: The Yankees and Rockies never seriously engaged in Troy Tulowitzki trade talks. The combination of cost (both prospects and dollars) and injury risk was not particularly appealing to the Yankees. [Joel Sherman]
  • 2:10pm ET: The Athletics are “deep” in Ben Zobrist trade talks and he is expected to move soon. It’s unclear where he will end up, but the Yankees have been connected to him for weeks. Zobrist makes a ton of sense for the Bombers and pretty much every other team in MLB. [Jane Lee]
  • 12:29pm ET: The Phillies are asking teams for their “best” offers for Cole Hamels by Wednesday. That makes sense, Hamels is scheduled to pitch Thursday and they probably want to deal him before then. His stock can only go down following the no-hitter. [Jayson Stark]
  • 9:30pm ET: Craig Kimbrel‘s name has indeed popped up in trade talks with the Padres. There was nothing more than speculation connecting the Yankees to Kimbrel prior to this. The Yankees insist they will not trade their top prospects and apparently that stance will have to change to get Kimbrel. [Jon Heyman]
  • The Yankees and several other clubs are “waiting to hear” whether the Tigers will make David Price available. Detroit lost for the seventh time in eleven games since the All-Star break yesterday, though reportedly they’re going to wait a few days before deciding on a course of action. [Buster Olney]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.

Second base option off the board: Zobrist goes to Royals

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)
(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)

The best second base option is officially off the board. The Athletics have traded Ben Zobrist to the Royals for pitching prospects Sean Manaea and Aaron Brooks, the club announced. Oakland is in full blown sell mode, having now traded Zobrist, Tyler Clippard, and Scott Kazmir. The Royals, meanwhile, are all-in with Zobrist and Johnny Cueto.

The Yankees were said to have interest in Zobrist for the last several weeks and it made perfect sense. Stephen Drew hasn’t hit all year and Zobrist, a switch-hitter with contact skills and defensive versatility, has put up a .268/.354/.447 (125 wRC+) batting line with more walks (12.2%) than strikeouts (9.6%) this year. His batting average is higher than Drew’s on-base percentage (.263).

The Royals paid a fair price for two months plus one October of Zobrist. Brooks is an up-an-down depth arm, a David Phelps type but not quite that good, while Manaea is a high-end pitching prospect with a history of injury issues (hip and abdomen, mostly). Baseball America ranked him as the 81st best prospect in the game before season.

Going from Drew to Zobrist was the biggest possible position player upgrade the Yankees could have realistically made at the trade deadline this year. (#RealTalk: Going from Drew to Zobrist is a bigger upgrade than going from Jose Reyes to Troy Tulowitzki.) The best available second base option now is, uh, Martin Prado? Egads.