Last night, left-hander Chris Capuano threw 72 pitches across 4.2 innings for Triple-A Scranton in his second minor league rehab start as he works his way back from a spring quad injury. Earlier this week Joe Girardi told George King they “would like to get (Capuano) to 90 pitches and see where we are at” before activating him off the DL, so Capuano figures to make at least one more rehab start before joining the Yankees.
Ivan Nova also continued his rehab from Tommy John surgery yesterday, throwing two innings in an Extended Spring Training game. Girardi told reporters everything went fine and Nova remains on track to join the team sometime in June. He could throw in another ExST game or two before beginning an official 30-day minor league rehab stint. Nova’s rehab has gone extremely well to date. No issues whatsoever.
Between Capuano and Nova, the Yankees have a pair of starting pitchers on the rehab trail and not too far from factoring into the MLB pitching staff. That doesn’t even include Masahiro Tanaka, who resumed throwing yesterday. It seems like Capuano will return first with Nova and Tanaka returning around the same time in a few weeks. Obviously lots can go wrong between now and then, but at least things are going well now.
Fitting them back onto the staff is a classic “worry about it when the time comes” situation. Chase Whitley has pitched well in his two starts yet we saw last year how quickly that can unravel. Adam Warren has pitched well enough in his first stint as a full-time starter but the numbers confirm what our eyes seem to be telling us — going through the lineup the second and third time has been a bit of a problem. Who knows what the rotation will look like in a week or two.
“It just gives us a lot more depth, which I think is really important during the course of a long season,” said Girardi to Vince Mercogliano yesterday, referring to Capuano and Nova moving closer to a return. The rotation has been fine overall, with the non-Michael Pineda starters typically doing just enough to keep the Yankees in the game. Capuano and Nova may or may not improve things, but at least they’ll give the Yankees options, something they’re running short on at the moment.
Biggest mailbag in RAB history. I think it is, anyway. Sixteen questions. Sixteen! Some of the answers are short though. If you want to send us any questions, use the “For The Mailbag” form in the sidebar. If you want to inquire about writing a guest post, email me directly at mike (at) riveraveblues (dot) com. I can’t answer you through the mailbag form.
Marc asks: It’s the 2018-2019 offseason. Who is more likely to end up a Yankee and why: Bryce Harper or Matt Harvey?
Obviously this is going to depend heavily on what the roster looks like in three and a half years. In a vacuum, I think the Yankees would pursue Harper before Harvey for a few reasons, most importantly their ages. Harper will turn 26 early in the 2018-19 offseason while Harvey will turn 30 in Spring Training 2019. You’d be buying Harper’s peak years — in theory, of course — while Harvey’s best seasons would likely be behind him. Huge contracts for pitchers near or beyond their 30th birthday are generally really bad investments. Harper is a transcendent talent and I’d have no trouble whatsoever giving him ten years at that age. Heck, given Giancarlo Stanton’s contract, Scott Boras might be able to get 12-14 years for Harper. Maybe 15 years. If they need pitching more than they need an outfielder — the Yankees do have a bunch of young outfielders in the system, after all — they might go Harvey instead. Me? I think Harper is way too special to pass up.
Ryan asks: Could you see a scenario where the Yankees draft Mike Matuella and Brady Aiken (assuming both were available at respective picks) and shoot for the moon on talent? If one worked out and became a top of the rotation starter, they would make out. They won’t have many chances to grab elite talent in the next few years, and if they are patient, they can land two in one draft.
No and I don’t think I’d advise it. That’s a very risky strategy, putting all your eggs in the injured prospect basket. The draft pool will another issue — I’m not sure the team’s $7.885M pool would be enough to sign both of those guys, and they aren’t worth exceeding the pool and forfeiting future picks. I believe Aiken is an elite talent when healthy and would be more willing to roll the dice on him. Matuella’s a fine prospect but not someone I’d pin my entire draft on. There has to be a balance between upside and probability, especially when that upside may be compromised by the ol’ zipper. If the Yankees want to roll the dice on one or the other, that works. Both is way too much risk for a team that will be really limited in its ability to add amateur talent the next few years.
Samantha asks: 15 of Mark Teixeira‘s 18 hits this year have gone for extra bases. What’s the highest percentage of hits that have gone for extra bases in a season?
Teixeira added two singles and a double since this question was sent in, so it’s 16 extra-base hits (six doubles, ten homers) out of 21 hits total this year. Before I looked this up, my guess was late-1990s Mark McGwire or early-2000s Barry Bonds held the record. I would have said McGwire if I was forced to pick one. Here are the top five extra-base hits-to-singles ratios in MLB history among players who qualified for the batting title:
|2001 Barry Bonds||107 XBH (32 2B, 2 3B, 73 HR)||49||68.6%|
|2010 Jose Bautista||92 XBH (35 2B, 3 3B, 54 HR)||56||62.2%|
|2009 Carlos Pena||66 XBH (25 2B, 2 3B, 39 HR)||41||61.7%|
|1999 Mark McGwire||87 XBH (21 2B, 1 3B, 65 HR)||58||60.0%|
|1998 Mark McGwire||91 XBH (21 2B, 0 3B, 70 HR)||61||59.9%|
The highest Yankee on the all-time leaderboard is 1921 Babe Ruth at 58.3%, which ranks eighth all-time. Teixeira is on pace to smash the all-time XBH/H record this year (he’s at 76.2%), but so are a few other players, including Bautista. My guess is Bonds’ record is safe for a while.
Casey asks: What are the chances Derek Jeter would have grown a mustache if he were on this year’s Yankees? I say slim to none.
Yeah I’d say close to zero. Maybe a 1% chance Jeter would grow a mustache. My guess is there would be a lot of “Jeter gets it, he’s all about winning, not mustaches” articles as well. The mustaches are fun. Team bonding is good. Whatever makes the 162-game grind easier.
Bubba asks: Is it possible to send David Carpenter to SWB? It appears that pitching by appointment isn’t helping. Maybe regular work where results won’t matter would help.
Nope, he’s out of minor league options, so he can’t go to Triple-A Scranton without passing through waivers. Given his performance with the Braves from 2013-14 (2.63 ERA and 2.88 FIP), low salary ($1.3M), and three remaining years of team control, my guess is Carpenter would get claimed in a hurry. The Yankees sorta painted themselves into a corner with Carpenter. It seems like he needs more work to get straightened out, but he hasn’t pitched well in his limited time so Girardi is hesitant to use him. I think the only solution is biting the bullet and getting him out there more than once a week, even if it means bringing him into the seventh inning of a one-run game once in a while. Carpenter can be a real weapon out of the bullpen and the Yankees have to help get him back to being good.
Ben asks: Similar to Stephen Drew, how long is Carlos Beltran‘s leash? He has clearly taken a step back, and looks very sluggish in the field and at the plate. Is it time to call up Ramon Flores to see what he can do?
I think Beltran is going to get at least the rest of this season and possibly the first half of next season to show he’s not done. His contract really complicates things because it’s not cheap — his $15M annual salary is really $22.5M because of the luxury tax — and they’re stuck paying him next year no matter what. The Yankees decided to ride it out with Alex Rodriguez this year (and have been rewarded so far!) and I have no reason to think they’ll cut bait with Beltran anytime soon. I think the best case scenario is Joe Girardi starts using Beltran in a straight platoon with Chris Young.
Johnny O. asks: What’s the over/under on when Aaron Judge will be moved up to AAA? That .402 wOBA is looking awesome. Only concern is K/BB, anything else?
Judge was promoted from Low-A to High-A in mid-June last year and that’s when I expect him to be bumped up to Triple-A Scranton this year. You have to give him a chance to go through the league a second time to see how pitchers adjust, and what he needs to do to adjust back. Judge’s strikeout rate (24.6%) is in line with last year’s rate (23.3%) but his walk rate has dropped considerably (5.3% after 15.8% last year). I’m actually not too concerned about that — minor league walk rates aren’t all that predictive because there are so many pitchers in the minors who have absolutely no idea where the ball is going, and that doesn’t necessarily mean they miss the plate, it also means they catch too much of it. I’d give him 60-70 games in Double-A and if he’s still mashing, bump him up. We go through this every year it seems. Twenty-five awesome games to start the season doesn’t necessarily mean a prospect is ready to be promoted.
Steve asks: Way too early obviously but would a guy like Scott Kazmir make sense for the Yankees to look into? No long term commitment, shouldn’t be as expensive prospect-wise as Johnny Cueto, others who might be available but he is also kind of a sneaky-solid pitcher.
Yes, I think Kazmir is a potential option for the Yankees. He has a 2.75 ERA (3.82 FIP) so far this year after pitching to a 3.77 ERA (3.42 FIP) in 348.1 innings from 2013-14. Kazmir is still only 31 and his comeback has been remarkable. He was out of baseball entirely due to arm problems a few years ago and worked his way back through an independent league and winter ball. The guy deserves a ton of credit not only for getting back to MLB, but having this much success in the second phase of his career.
Kazmir isn’t missing bats like he did in his prime but both his strikeout (22.8%) and walk (6.8%) rates have been a tick better than league average since resurfacing in 2013. He doesn’t get many grounders (42.4%) but his hard contact rate (28.4%) is basically identical to the league average (28.3%), so it’s not like all the fly balls are rockets. Kazmir is a rental, he’s making $13M this season, and I think the A’s would be willing to make him a qualifying offer after the season, so they’d presumably want something more valuable than a supplemental first round pick in a trade. Kazmir could definitely help the Yankees if they’re willing to pay what figures to be a high price.
CanGuest asks: First, what do you think of the Josh Hamilton trade? Seems like a great deal for the Rangers, with the Angels covering all but 7m of the deal. Second, one of the reasons I heard for the Angels for making the trade was for additional room under the luxury tax. I thought that if a team is paying a portion of a player’s salary, that amount counts toward their luxury tax. Am I wrong, or do the Angels only save like 2m/year in luxury tax room?
It’s a win-win-win trade, good for all three parties. The Angels get rid of a player they clearly didn’t want, Hamilton gets away from a toxic situation and back to an organization that knows him well, and the Rangers get a potentially productive player on the cheap. I’m not sure how the money is broken down in the trade, but as far as the luxury tax is concerned, the Angels save whatever the Rangers are playing him in a given year. So take Hamilton’s $25M luxury tax hit, then subtract whatever Texas is paying him that year. If they’re paying him $1M this year, he counts as $24M against the tax for the Angels. And if the Rangers pay him $5M next year, the Halos are stuck with a $20M luxury tax hit. Got it? Course you do.
George asks: If the Yankees don’t acknowledge A-Rod‘s 660th as a milestone, could he design and market his own merchandise? Possibly a generic A-Rod, not in Yankee garb with some reference to 660?
Yes with limitations. Alex can use his likeness on merchandise but he could not use any Yankees or MLB logos without a license, something I highly doubt they would be willing to negotiate given the circumstances. A-Rod’s camp could come up with a slogan or a logo like DJ3K (AROD660?) and sell that. A-Rod can design and sell merchandise with his likeness and the number 660 on it — MLB and the Yankees don’t hold the rights to that stuff — but there can’t be anything linking it to the team or the league without their approval. It would have to be a real generic design.
George asks: Why don’t the Yankees and A-Rod agree to give the $6M milestone bonus to a charity of their choice?
Knowing the Yankees and A-Rod, they’d probably end up in front of an arbitration panel fighting over who gets to claim the tax deduction.
It’s too soon to tell. It was too soon to tell last month, it’s too soon to tell this month, it’ll be too soon to tell next month. We just went through this — and still are, really — with the Michael Pineda–Jesus Montero trade. When you’re talking about two players this young and this early in their careers, it’s going to take years before you can tell which team got the better end of the trade. Years. I know no one wants to hear that, we all want answers now, but that’s not possible. This trade was never about instant gratification.
Bailey asks: Michael Pineda has only pitched over a 100 innings once in his MLB career, and that was four years ago (171). Do we need to worry about him hitting a IP limit/cap? Assuming he stays healthy.
Definitely. Worry maybe isn’t the right word. It’s just something the team has to monitor. There’s a natural concern Pineda may get hurt again given his history, I’m not sure how that couldn’t be in the back of anyone’s mind, but what if he simply runs out of gas in August or September after throwing 124.2 total innings from 2012-14? I think the Yankees are smart to use a sixth starter every once in a while to give Pineda and others the extra rest. I’d like to see them shuffle the rotation around the All-Star break to give Pineda a nice long 10-12 day break if possible too.
Bavarian Yankee asks: I just realized that both Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller had a 0 ERA in April. Was this the first time the Yankees had their two best relievers start the season with a 0 ERA during the first month?
Betances and Miller threw 12.1 and 11.1 innings in April, respectively, so let’s use ten innings as our minimum. Here is the full list of Yankees pitchers who threw at least ten innings with a 0.00 ERA in March/April (via Baseball Reference):
That’s it. Only eleven times in history has a pitcher — starter or reliever — thrown at least ten innings in March/April with a 0.00 ERA for the Yankees. Dellin and Miller are the third set of teammates to do it, joining Womack and Reniff in 1967 and Turley and Larsen in 1958. I’m surprised Rivera only did it once in all those years of excellence. Then again, there always seemed to be a What’s Wrong With Mo Week™ every April. So yeah, what we watched Betances and Miller do last month hadn’t been done in nearly 50 years.
Paco asks: NYY 2B has a higher OPS than the Seattle 2B. Is Robinson Cano already in decline, or too early in the season to tell?
It’s too early to tell. Robbie is hitting .263/.306/.377 (92 wRC+) in 121 plate appearances this year. He hit .255/.303/.355 (75 wRC+) in his first 119 plate appearances as recently as 2012. He also hit .269/.319/.352 (76 wRC+) in his first 119 plate appearances back in 2007 as well. As great as Cano is, getting off to a slow start isn’t unprecedented. This slow start could be considered more of red flag given the fact he’ll turn 33 later this year, but hey, that’s not the Yankees problem anymore. If anything, Robbie is struggling because I went big on offense in fantasy this year and paid way more than I was comfortable paying to get him in my auction. Blame me.
Kuroda has made six starts for the Hiroshima Carp so far this season and is 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. He’s struck out 24 and walked eight in 31 innings. Kuroda is also 2-for-15 (.133) with eight strikeouts at the plate. In his six starts, Hiroshima has scored two, zero, seven, two, eleven, and four runs for an average of 4.33 runs of support per game. The Yankees gave Kuroda an average of 3.74 runs of support per game from 2012-14, so at least his new team is taking care of him offensively. The Carp are 13-18 and in last place in the Central Division, which stinks. I’m hoping Kuroda goes out a champ. Dude deserves it.
So we not only witnessed A-Rod move up the all-time home run ranks, the Yankees also defeated one of their division rivals to start off the home series. When you look at results, not much to complain about, right? Well, it was a stressful one to watch but the bottom line is, New York won using some power hitting and a shutdown bullpen, which seems to be a formula that’s worked well enough to lead the division.
The inevitable has happened and it could have happened few innings earlier. First inning, with two runners on, Alex Rodriguez hit a towering fly ball to the opposite field. For a moment, it looked like Rodriguez was going to get a Yankee Stadium-aided homer … but none other than Delmon Young timed the jump right to rob it. Granted, it looked like a fly ball that a lot of outfielders would have been able to catch, but what if?
But you know what, A-Rod got another big fly two innings later. It was hit quite deep and no one had a chance to catch it. In fact, it landed left to the Monument Park, so yeah. If you want to hit a milestone homer, might as well as hit it big. And of course, that dinger put A-Rod ahead of Willie Mays for the No. 4 spot on the all-time home run list. Next up? Babe Ruth (714) for No. 3 spot.
One of those outings:
Here is Nathan Eovaldi‘s line from tonight:
5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
First off, I wish he was able to finish the sixth inning just so the line looks neater (6, 6, 3, 3, 3, 3. Eh? Eh?) but Joe Girardi doesn’t care about that. Secondly, tonight’s start illustrated what keeps Eovaldi from taking his skills to the next level — making mistake pitches that result in hard contacts and the inability to finish off a hitter with a strikeout, which is frustrating given his gifted arm strength. But he’s still young and it’s up to him to learn and adapt.
I should also note that Eovaldi gave up two homers tonight — one to former Yankee minor leaguer Jimmy Paredes (who is hitting for a torrid 178 wRC+ in 65 PA this season) and Caleb Joseph. His 2015 HR/9 rate is now at 1.32, which is double his career figure of 0.66. Oh well. It’s one of the drawbacks of moving to a hitter-friendly ballpark. It was nice seeing him pump up mid-to-late-90’s heat (just for the sake of aesthetics, I must admit), but there’s a lot to work on for Nate. If he is able to develop, I have a feeling that we’ll have the pleasure of watching a special pitcher grow in front of our eyes for the next few years. Yes, I’m optimistic.
You know, Justin Wilson has a solid 2.79 ERA, but when he comes in, I feel like a pitcher with a 4.79 ERA is on the hill — probably because of his 5.59 BB/9. Thank goodness for his power stuff, which makes it easy to forgive his less-than-ideal command. Tonight, by the way, Wilson had a relatively easy outing after inheriting a 4-3 lead with two runners on. While he did not strike out any, he induced three grounders and a fly ball, retiring all four hitters faced. That’s all the Yankees needed from tonight’s 7th inning guy.
After Wilson, Dellin Betances game in and well … he did what Betances does the best — get hitters out. He got Adam Jones to ground out, Delmon Young to line out to Stephen Drew, and made Chris Davis look foolish with a swinging strikeout. Every time Dellin has a good outing, I always praise Yeezus that he took the $1 million bonus from the Yankees instead of going to Vanderbilt or playing basketball back in 2006.
With the score still at 4-3, the unofficial closer Andrew Miller came in for the save. Baltimore, by the way, is not a light-hitting team and there’s always a chance for a dicey situation whenever a runner gets on. So when Miller walked Steve Pearce to start the ninth … well … it felt dicey. But that feeling did not last long. J.J. Hardy popped out and the next two hitters struck out swinging to end the game. Boom. Save no. 12.
Overshadowed by A-Rod’s HR milestone was Mark Teixeira‘s performance. Tex went 2-for-3 and both hits drove in runs — one of them a double to drive in the go-ahead run in the bottom of fifth. His 2015 line is at .223/.345/.606, good for a 148 wRC+ and .383 ISO. If only his BABIP could be higher than .153.
Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner also proved themselves as two of the hottest ML bats again. Both combined for 4-for-7 with a walk and scored three out of four runs for New York. Tonight was basically a Ells-Gardy-A-Rod-Tex show for the offense as the rest of lineup combined for a meager 3-for-19.
Box Score, WPA, Standings, etc.:
Tomorrow, Yankees take on the Orioles again. Adam Warren goes against Miguel Gonzalez. Here’s to hoping that the bats do something against this Orioles righty this time around. It would be sweet if the Yankees take the series as well especially because I live in Maryland.
Triple-A Scranton (5-0 loss to Gwinnett)
- CF Slade Heathcott: 1-4, 1 K, 1 SB
- RF Tyler Austin: 0-4, 1 K — in an ugly 9-for-66 (.136) slump
- LF Ramon Flores: 0-4
- C Austin Romine & DH Ben Gamel: both 2-3, 1 BB — Gamel doubled
- LHP Chris Capuano: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 6/2 GB/FB — 47 of 72 pitches were strikes (65%) … he was scheduled for 75 pitches in his second rehab start … seems like the plan is to have Capuano make one more rehab start to get up to 90 pitches before being activated off the DL
- RHP Danny Burawa: 2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 5/1 GB/FB — 24 of 45 pitches were strikes (53%) … 11/7 K/BB in 16 innings
- LHP Tyler Webb: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — ten of 16 pitches were strikes (63%)
- RHP Branden Pinder: 1 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 0/2 GB/FB — nine of 16 pitches were strikes (57%)
Get a good look at Yankee Stadium this weekend. We’re not going to see it for a while. The Yankees are in the middle of a stretch in which they will only play four of 19 games at home. They just wrapped up a six-game road trip and will head out on another ten-game trip early next week. The NYCFC guys are going to have the Stadium all to themselves this month.
Anyway, the Yankees are opening a four-game series with the Orioles tonight. Their five-series winning streak was snapped yesterday, but that was bound to happen at some point. Time to start a new streak tonight against yet another division rival. Did you know the Yankees have played the toughest schedule in MLB to date based on the numbers crunchers at FanGraphs? It’s true. That makes their 17-11 record even more impressive. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- LF Brett Gardner
- DH Alex Rodriguez
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- RF Carlos Beltran
- 3B Chase Headley
- 2B Stephen Drew
- SS Didi Gregorius
RHP Nathan Eovaldi
The weather in New York is just perfect. Bright blue sky with temperatures in the upper-70s and very little humidity. Just perfect. It’ll be just as pleasant tonight. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and, depending on where you live, MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.
Last week the Yankees placed ace Masahiro Tanaka on the 15-day DL with wrist tendinitis and a supposedly minor forearm strain. At the time, Brian Cashman said the right-hander would be shut down 7-10 days before resuming baseball activities.
It has now been eight days since Tanaka was placed on the DL, and this afternoon Tanaka threw for the first time since getting hurt. He played catch and made 50 throws at a distance of 60 feet, so it was nothing intense, but this is only the first step. Tanaka reported no problems and I assume he’ll throw again at some point this weekend.
Tanaka, 26, was unhappy with being placed on the DL because the doctors said the injury was very minor, according to Jon Heyman. The Yankees decided to play it safe for obvious reasons. Cashman confirmed the MRI showed no damage to Tanaka’s elbow ligament, but still, forearm strains tend to lead to ligament problems, so this injury is a red flag.
Tanaka is expected to “conservatively” miss a month between being shut down and getting built back up again, though of course the Yankees are going to be very careful with his rehab no matter what kind of shape the MLB rotation is in. Chris Capuano may only be another week away from returning and Ivan Nova‘s about a month away as well.