CC Sabathia could begin throwing off a mound as soon as next week, Joe Girardi told reporters yesterday. He has been playing catch for several days now. “CC’s been playing catch. He did a little bit of flat ground yesterday and hopefully when we get home next week I can possibly get him on a mound,” said Girardi to Brendan Kuty.
Sabathia, 33, has been out with what Brian Cashman called a “degenerative condition” in his right knee for a little more than a month now. He was pretty bad (5.28 ERA And 4.73 FIP) before getting hurt, though who knows how much the knee contributed to his struggles. Cashman said Sabathia is not expected back until sometime in July at the earliest, so while getting back up on a mound represents progress, he still has a long way to go before rejoining the rotation. · (43) ·
Got nine questions and seven answers for you this week. If you want to send us anything, mailbag questions or links or comments or whatever, use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar.
Scott asks: I’m sure this has been asked a million times but how about Cole Hamels? It is a pretty big contract but money isn’t an issue. Cliff Lee is hurt and the Phillies are pretty bad. He has had some injury issues but what would it take?
Hamels started the year on the disabled list with a shoulder issue, but he has a 3.07 ERA (2.80 FIP) in ten starts and 67.1 innings since being activated, so he’s been as good as ever. There is still $103M or so left on his contract through 2018, so he could be a cheaper alternative to upcoming free agents like Max Scherzer and Jon Lester. The only problem is that you’d have to trade players to get him. The Phillies aren’t exactly hurting for cash either. If they trade Hamels, it won’t be for salary relief only. The shoulder issue is a little scary, especially because he has had some other shoulder problems in the past, but I do think Hamels is worth keeping in the back of your mind as a Scherzer and Lester alternative over the winter. I don’t think the Phillies are going to go into sell mode at the deadline no matter how bad things get.
Erick asks: We all know Ichiro won Rookie of the Year and MVP. Has anyone ever won Rookie of the Year and Cy Young? I know it’s dreaming since pitchers nowadays rarely get mentioned as MVPs, but MVP, CY and ROY for Tanaka? How crazy would that be?
Fernando Valenzuela is the only player in history to win the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young awards in the same season. He did it back in 1981. Jose Fernandez came kinda close last year, when he won the Rookie of the Year and finished third in the Cy Young voting behind Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright. Tanaka obviously has a very good chance to win both awards this season with the obvious caveat that he still has about 20 starts to go. Sweeping the Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP awards would be completely ridiculous. Ridiculously awesome.
Dan asks: At this point, it’s honestly worth wondering if the Yankees should be buyers or sellers. Is one bat really enough to put this team over the top? I don’t think so. If they became sellers, who (if anyone) would they be able to move? Hiroki Kuroda, Ichiro Suzuki, and Brett Gardner is pretty much it, right?
To be fair to Dan, this question came in a few days ago, before the sweep of the Mariners. Things obviously felt quite different then.
Anyway, they aren’t going to sell. They’re the Yankees. They’re close enough to both the division lead (3.5 games back) and a wildcard spot (tied for the second spot) that they’ll go for it and try to add pieces at the trade deadline, especially after spending all that money over the winter. One bat probably isn’t enough to put them over the top, but a bat and a starter and improved performance from Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann might be.
In the highly unlikely event they do sell, I think Kuroda, Gardner, and David Robertson would be their most attractive trade chips. Kuroda has a no-trade clause but would probably waive it to go back to Los Angeles, either the Dodgers or Angels. His family still lives out there. Gardner and especially Robertson would make sense for several teams. Ichiro could draw some interest but the return wouldn’t be anything great. That’s really it. Not much available for this team to realistically sell before the deadline.
Joey asks: Assuming the NYY either acquire a starter or Michael Pineda comes back and can contribute, who goes first between Chase Whitley, Vidal Nuno, and David Phelps? Whitely gives the least distance but seems to be the best of the bunch, Phelps seems to be best in a reliever role. Thoughts?
Dustin asks: What is with Joe Girardi always pulling Whitely out of the game early? Has he never thrown 100 in a game before?
Going to lump these two together. First, no, Whitley has never thrown 100 pitches in a game before. His career high is 91 pitches in the game against the Cardinals a few weeks ago. Remember, he was a reliever up until the end of last year. He’s thrown more than 60 pitches in an outing only 13 times in his entire five-year career. Whitely never got the chance to learn how to turn a lineup over a third time in the minors and Girardi has been careful with him in those situations at the MLB level, and rightfully so. I would have liked to have seen him get a chance to finish off that eighth inning last night, but otherwise I don’t think there’s anything wrong with how he’s handled the righty.
At this point in time, I think Nuno would go back to the bullpen whenever Pineda or CC Sabathia comes off the disabled list. Phelps has had three really rough outings in a row but I think the Yankees are more comfortable with him in the rotation. Remember, the only reason Nuno was the first guy to move into the rotation was timing — he made a spot start following a doubleheader and happened to line up perfectly to start again when Ivan Nova blew out his elbow. Phelps has more experience as a starter at the MLB level and his stuff is better. Nuno feels like the guy to go back to the bullpen in my opinion, but that could change by time Pineda or Sabathia actually get healthy
nycsportzfan asks: Hey Mike, I was wondering if you thought the Yanks could make one big trade at the deadline to find a hitter and pitcher? Examples are Aaron Hill and Wade Miley from D’Backs, Andrew Cashner and Everth Cabrera from Padres, and Charlie Morton and Neil Walker from Pirates? Could Yanks have enough to make a similar deal to those I mentioned happen? Kill two birds with one stone type thing.
I think the most realistic scenario for a trade like that would be Hill and Brandon McCarthy from Arizona. I haven’t heard anything about Miley being available, which makes sense since he is under team control for another few years and McCarthy will become a free agent after the season. I can’t see the Padres trading Cashner and I don’t think the Pirates would move Morton (just signed an extension) or Walker (local Pittsburgh guy). Ben Zobrist and David Price would be the best case scenario, but that ain’t happening. Maybe Alex Rios and Colby Lewis? Luis Valbuena and Jason Hammel would actually be a real nice fit. Valbuena can play second and third and is hitting .288/.394/.456 (136 wRC+).
Sandro asks: When the Yankees drafted Aaron Judge last year, he was touted as a potential center fielder with huge power. At 6’7″ 230, he has a similar body type to another slugger, Giancarlo Stanton. Is this comparison too hopeful?
Yes. Stanton was a third year big leaguer when he was Judge’s age. Also, Judge has big power, but it’s not Stanton power. Stanton has true 80 power (on the 20-80 scale). Just let Judge be himself. It’s unfair to compare him to Stanton. They have very little in common aside from being physically huge outfielders.
Jack asks: Oppenheimer was quoted that with each of the first two picks they were within “one or two picks” of picking a position player, instead of the two pitchers they actually took. Looking at rounds 2 and 3 the only position players picked 1 or 2 picks before the Yankee picks were Matt Railey (Rd3) and Aramis Garcia (Rd2). What do you think of those 2 instead of the two the Yankees picked?
Danny asks: Any of their 2014 draftees enter Yankees top 20 prospects?
Going to lump these two together. Here’s the full quote from scouting director Damon Oppenheimer, in case you missed it (via Chad Jennings):
The Yankees first five picks were pitchers, but that wasn’t deliberate
“It really was just coincidence because we were real close, within a pick or two, of a position player both with the first pick and the second pick. So it could have gone either way real quick,” Oppenheimer said.
Missouri HS OF Monte Harrison and Georgia HS OF Michael Gettys were selected 50th and 51st overall, respectively, a few picks before the Yankees took Mississippi State LHP Jacob Lindgren with the 55th selection. (Garcia was 52nd.) Oregon State OF Dylan Davis and Railey were taken 87th and 89th overall, again respectively, right before the Yankees grabbed Connecticut HS RHP Austin DeCarr with the 91st pick.
I think Oppenheimer was referring to Harrison and Gettys specifically because they were considered first round talents who slid for whatever reason. The Yankees seem to love their toolsy and athletic high school position player prospects and those two definitely fit the bill. I would have preferred either over Lindgren because they offer way, way more upside than the typical 55th selection. Alas, it was not meant to be. As for the third round, I don’t really have a preference for Davis or Railey over DeCarr. Davis did not have a good spring by top college player standards at all (.283/.338/.430). Without spending too much time thinking about it, give me DeCarr over the other two.
The signing deadline is Friday, July 18th, so I’m going to post my annual post-draft top 30 prospects list the following week (here’s the pre-draft list). I haven’t put too much through into it yet, but Lindgren is a safe bet to crack the top 20. DeCarr might. He is a lock for the top 30 though. Central Michigan RHP Jordan Foley will get consideration for the top 30, ditto Florida HS RHP Garrett Cave and Connecticut HS 3B Will Toffey if they sign. That’s about it. With no first round pick and a draft class geared more towards probability than upside, not many guys will jump into my top 30. The international signing period will be a different story.
1:15am: Joe Girardi said it’s a minor issue and they expect Ellsbury to play in Friday’s game.
12:42am: Ellsbury left the game with right hip tightness, the team announced. He was not in Monday’s lineup because the hip was bothering him, but the game was rained out.
10:06am: Jacoby Ellsbury left tonight’s game for an unknown reason in the middle of the seventh inning. Replays showed him talking to Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donahue between innings. Ellsbury crashed into the wall making a catch earlier in the game, and Wally Matthews notes he had an ice pack on his left knee following yesterday’s game. Hopefully it’s nothing serious. Losing him for any length of time would be rather devastating. · (11) ·
That was a fun series. The Mariners came into the Bronx and swept the Yankees earlier this year, and this week the Yankees returned the favor with a sweep of their own in Seattle. Thursday night’s 6-3 win clinched it. Let’s recap the club’s third straight win:
- Ace Whitley: Chase freakin’ Whitley, man. What a beast. As I noted on Twitter, he is basically pitching like Michael Pineda, only with way more ground balls. Whitley held the Mariners to two runs in 7.2 innings on Thursday, striking out six and walking zero. I know he’s a recently converted reliever and all that, but I don’t get why he was lifted at only 82 pitches. He threw 87 last time out. Don’t you have to get him up to 95 or so? Especially since the Yankees had a four-run lead with the bases empty and two outs in the inning? Whatever. Whitley’s a damn stud. What a story.
- Two At a Time: The last time lefty Roenis Elias started against the Yankees, Jacoby Ellsbury took him deep for a leadoff homer. Ellsbury took him deep again on Thursday, this time with Derek Jeter on base for a two-run jack in the first. I love early runs. Two innings later, Alfonso Soriano‘s bat rose from the dead and drove in two with a double into the left-center field gap. Jeter and Ellsbury scored. An inning after that, Jeter sliced a single to right to plate two more runs. Roberts and John Ryan Murphy scored on that hit. The six runs are the most the Yankees have scored since the final game of the Cardinals series two and a half weeks ago. Geez.
- Bullpeners: Matt Thornton came on in relief Whitley to face Robinson Cano and, of course, he walked him. Kyle Seager followed that with a fly out to end the inning. Lefties have a .342 OBP against Thornton this year, which is entirely too high for a guy whose only job is to get lefties out. Shawn Kelley faced three batters in the ninth, allowed two doubles, then gave way to David Robertson. It was Kelley’s first appearance since coming off the disabled list. Robertson struck out two to close out the win.
- Leftovers: Ellsbury’s homer extended his hitting streak to 16 games. He later left the game with tightness in his hip … Jeter had three hits and a walk. He went 7-for-12 (.583) with two walks in the series … everyone in the lineup reached base at least once except Brett Gardner and Yangervis Solarte … Ellsbury, Gardner, and Ichiro Suzuki all made nice jumping catches at the wall to take away extra-base hits … the Yankees swept a three-game series for the first time this season.
MLB.com has the box score, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees are now heading south to Oakland for a three-game weekend series against the Athletics. David Phelps and Sonny Gray will be the pitching matchup for Friday’s opener.
Guest: Jason Wojciechowski of BeaneBall, an A’s blog, and Back of the Bullpen, a general baseball podcast. We’re talking about the upcoming A’s series and how they have turned players like Brandon Moss and Josh Donaldson into stars.
To open the show Jay and I are running down some general items, including the recent series against Seattle and some frustrations with the team.
Mike joins us a bit later to talk about the draft, particularly about the Yankees’ strategy and how it fits with their intentions during the international signing period. And of course we’re talking Rob Refsnyder.
Spoiler: We don’t talk potential trade targets at all. Not once. A disappointment, I know.
iTunes link: here. Wanna leave us a review? It would be much appreciated.
Remember to email in your questions for the next show, podcast at riveraveblues.com.
You can also give us a call us at 716-393-5330 and leave a voicemail. We’ll play it on air and answer it. It’ll feel more radio-like that way.
The video above is highlights from yesterday’s Double-A Trenton game, including Frankie Cervelli‘s latest rehab game. Here are some other notes:
- C Gary Sanchez, who was benched yesterday for disciplinary reasons, had a closed door meeting with the coaching staff according to Nick Peruffo. “Gary is out of there for a couple of days until we decide he deserves to play again, plain and simple,” said someone on the staff. This isn’t the first time they’ve had to discipline him — Sanchez was demoted to Extended Spring Training a few years ago because he refused to catch a bullpen session, among other things.
- OF Slade Heathcott will once again have his knee scoped, VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman confirmed to Josh Norris. Heathcott had surgery on the knee over the winter and it hasn’t been right since. The kid can’t stay healthy. Sigh.
- On the bright side, Newman told Norris that 3B Eric Jagielo (ribcage) is about ten days away from being activated off the disabled list. C Luis Torrens (shoulder) and SS Abi Avelino (unknown) are two weeks ago. These are Newman timetables though, so who knows.
Triple-A Scranton (5-4 loss to Columbus)
- 1B Jose Pirela: 1-4, 1 K, 1 SB
- LF Zoilo Almonte: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K — 12-for-32 (.375) with three homers in eight games since being sent down
- DH Kyle Roller: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K
- 3B Scott Sizemore: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K — second homer in his last three games
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-4, 2 K — snaps his multi-hit game streak at eight
- C Austin Romine: 1-3, 1 R, 1 K
- LHP Jeremy Bleich: 6 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 HB, 8/1 GB/FB – 47 of 81 pitches were strikes (58%) … after parts of five seasons, he finally made it out of Double-A
- RHP Danny Burawa: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3/1 GB/FB – 20 of 31 pitches were strikes (66%)
For only the second time this season, the Yankees are in position to sweep a three-game series. They won the first two games against the Pirates before dropping the finale a few weeks ago. That’s it. That’s the only other time this year they won the first two games of a three-game series. The Yankees last swept a series of at least three games at the very end of last season, taking three meaningless games from the Astros.
To get that elusive first sweep of 2014 tonight, the Yankees will have to beat left-hander Roenis Elias, who fanned a career-high ten in seven innings in the Bronx back in April. A little payback would be nice, but the win is the priority. The Yankees need to start bunching a few of those together. Here is the Mariners lineup and here is the Yankees lineup for the series finale:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- RF Alfonso Soriano
- DH Carlos Beltran
- 3B Yangervis Solarte
- 2B Brian Roberts
- C John Ryan Murphy
RHP Chase Whitley
It is cloudy, cool, and drizzling in Seattle, so the Safeco Field retractable roof might be shut. First pitch is scheduled for 10:10pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy the game.
The Yankees are still out on the West Coast, so the regular game thread is a few hours away. While you’re waiting, check out the above feature on LHP Ian Clarkin, the third of the Yankees’ three first round picks in last year’s draft. Also check out this firsthand scouting report from Baseball Prospectus (no sub. req’d), which includes a link to even more video. I ranked Clarkin as the team’s third best pitching prospect and seventh best prospect overall two weeks ago.
Here is your open thread for the night. The Mets are playing, MLB Network is airing a regional game, and Game Four of the NBA Finals is on as well. Talk about those games, Clarkin, or anything else right here.
The Yankees have officially signed fifth round draft pick RHP Jordan Foley, he announced on Twitter. Chris Cotillo says he received a $317,500 bonus, which is full slot value for the 152nd overall pick. You can see all of the team’s picks at Baseball America and keep tabs on the draft pool situation with our 2014 Draft Pool Tracker.
Foley, 21 next month, was ranked as the 128th best prospect in the draft class by Baseball America. “Foley works primarily off an 89-94 mph fastball, touching 96, and at times he shows a plus slider, though he struggles to repeat it. Other scouts see Foley as a reliever because he uses a split-finger fastball as a changeup to combat lefthanded hitters,” they wrote in their subscriber-only scouting report. The Yankees also drafted Foley in the 26th round of the 2011 draft out of high school. · (7) ·
I wasn’t planning to put together a thoughts post today, but my brain wasn’t working particularly well this morning and I was having a tough time coming up with a decent topic for a post. So, instead, here are a few short nuggets that have been on my mind.
1. I was somewhat surprised the Yankees opted to send Matt Daley rather than Jose Ramirez down to Triple-A Scranton yesterday, when Shawn Kelley came off the disabled list. Ramirez has only thrown 14 total innings this season after opening the year on the shelf with an oblique injury, so I figured they would send him down to continue shaking off the rust. I like that they kept him though. Kelley, Dellin Betances, and Adam Warren will continue to handle setup duty, as they should, but the middle innings will all go to Ramirez. Kinda like how Joe Girardi used Betances early in the season, say, down two or three runs in the sixth and seventh innings. (I would say up four or five runs, but, well, you know about the offense.) That’s how Girardi has used his young relievers over the years. Cut your teeth in middle relief, and when the time is right, you’ll get high-leverage innings. Ramirez has a huge arm and he has the potential to be a real weapon in short relief. The Yankees have apparently decided now is the time to get his feet wet, with all those other quality arms in the bullpen around him.
2. You know what was great about Masahiro Tanaka‘s outing last night? He got pissed off after allowing the homer in the ninth inning. You could see it in his face and in his body language. There was definitely some anger behind his pitches to the final two batters. Just look at his velocity spike at the end of the game (via Brooks Baseball):
Tanaka threw 110 pitches overall and he was throwing his hardest at the end of the game. He was pretty clearly pissed about losing the shutout and he wanted to end the game with authority. As awesome as he’s been on the mound getting all those silly-looking swings and misses, the thing I love about Tanaka the most is his poise and competitiveness. We hear about players with good makeup all the time, but man, Tanaka is on another level. The guy is a stone-faced killer on the mound.
3. The Yankees clearly used last week’s draft to balance out the upcoming international free agent signings. The international class is going to add a ton of risky, high-upside prospects to the system once the signing period opens next month, though the draft class was relatively light on upside and geared more towards probability. There is no such thing as a “safe” prospect, but guys like LHP Jacob Lindgren (second round) and LHP Jordan Montgomery (fourth) are high probability guys who are good bets to reach their ceilings, barring injury. The talent comes off the board very linearly in the draft these days, the best prospects go first and everyone falls in place behind them, so there weren’t many high-upside guys left available when New York’s top pick (55th overall) came around. Grabbing a quick to MLB guy like Lindgren makes a lot of sense considering the upcoming international signings. Adding a potential impact reliever (who happens to throw left-handed) to the organization at that spot is a great way to maximize the return on that draft slot. I mean, we’re talking about the 55th overall pick. Not the 15th or even the 30th.