Guest Post: Death of a Manager: September 25, 1929

The following is a guest post from Adam Moss, who you know as Roadgeek Adam in the comments. He’s previously written guest posts on Tim McClelland, Frankie Crosetti, the No. 26, Casey Stengel, and Leo Durocher.

huggins death 1

The baseball world and especially the Yankees’ world took a major blow on September 22, 2015, when Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra died at the age of 90. Berra was a Yankee legend for many generations dating back to the 1940s. Grandfathers, fathers, sons and grandsons around the country knew the name Yogi Berra and would always know what exactly Yogi stood for. Yogi won 13 World Series rings as player, manager and coach for both of the New York teams; the Yankees and the Mets and I think both teams’ fans are hurting right now (more the Yankees than the Mets), because a legend has moved on to the baseball field in heaven.

At the same time as we’re mourning the death of Berra, the 86th anniversary of a similar death, but much more sudden approaches us today. On September 25, 1929, Yankee manager Miller Huggins, the former Cincinnati Red & St. Louis Cardinal second baseman died suddenly at the age of 51. On Friday, September 20, Huggins had been admitted to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village with erysipelas of the face, which basically means the face is bright red due to an acute infection of the upper dermis and superficial lymphatics. His condition had been worsened due to a case of influenza, and though blood transfusions had been performed to help his condition, last rites were called at 12:10 PM on the 22nd. On September 25, the “Mighty Atom,” Miller Huggins was gone.

A Career of Successful Managing

Miller Huggins, up until his death in 1929, had been an excellent manager for the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals. But the story of Miller Huggins goes back much further to a kid who was basically handicapped by his own weight for the game of baseball that he loved. The Mighty Atom, standing a mere 5ft 5in tall, worked his tail off against his parents’ wishes (they wanted a lawyer out of him), but instead decided at 16 to make baseball his career. He however, did study at the University of Cincinnati and was accepted to the state bar in 1902.

However, in 1899, Huggins turned his attention to baseball as well, playing his first professional game as a second baseman with the Mansfield Haymakers for the very original Class-B Interstate League that existed as a group of teams through the Midwest. In 1901, Huggins moved onto the St. Paul Saints and showing strong ambition and desire to play the game of baseball, the Cincinnati Reds bought the contract of Huggins from the Saints in 1904. He became a Red permanently for the next six seasons, showing an incredible ability to get on base, even with little power, having a major league high 103 walks in 1905 alone, with a low 46 strikeouts. While Huggins never had any power, his on-base percentage rates were enough to keep him in the league for many years.

On February 3, 1910, the Reds traded Huggins to the St. Louis Cardinals along with outfielder Rebel Oakes and pitcher/infield/outfielder Frank Corridon for pitcher Fred Beebe and infielder Alan Storke. Keeping up with his OBP-heavy playing skills, Huggins eventually was declared a player-manager for the Cardinals, hoping to grow a really lackluster franchise into something strong. However, his performance as a manager of the Cardinals came with lackluster success as he could never get the team higher than third in the league. In 1918, he was hired by Col. Jacob Ruppert and Col. Tillinghast L. Huston to form a championship team out of the New York Yankees, who had yet to win a World Series. Now purely a manager, Huggins successfully started getting the team up to snuff, threatening to win the AL pennant in 1919 and 1920, before winning it in 1921. However, in the final 9-game World Series ever, the Yankees lost 3 games to 5 against the rival New York Giants. In 1922, the same two teams met once again in the World Series, but the Yankees were swept in 4 games. After four years of trying, 1923 was the charm. The Giants and the Yankees clashed once again, but this time, the Huggins-led Yankees emerged victorious with a 4-2 series win.

With the win in the 1923 World Series, Huggins had basically created his “machine” for winning championships. While he failed to reach the series in 1924 and 1925, the Yankees returned in 1926, but lost to the Cardinals 3 games to 4. Finally, the next season, the “machine” had its best season ever, led by those such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Pat Collins, Tony Lazzeri and Waite Hoyt, the 1927 Yankees won an astounding 110 games with only 44 losses, one-quarter of which were to the Cleveland Indians. That year, the hot Yankees walked into the World Series and beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4 games to none. In 1928, the same team basically walked into the World Series and swept the Cardinals in 4 games.

The 1929 season was a bit different. Even though the team had upgraded with players such as Bill Dickey and Leo Durocher, the “machine” did not have the same fight in them. The Philadelphia Athletics had basically come in and beaten up on the Yankees and Miller Huggins felt like the entire 1929 season was tough because of pennant races. There is a general belief that the poorer performance in the 1929 season affected Huggins emotionally and health-wise, because he couldn’t stand to see his “machine” fall apart. By September 4, it was clear that Huggins had thrown in the towel about defeating the Athletics and taking the American League pennant. Col. Ruppert suggested for Huggins sake to take a vacation and that he would be guaranteed at least a 2nd place finish that year. Huggins denied and wanted to stay with the team, but his health was getting to him, especially with a boil that he ignored and it turned into the disease that eventually took his own life.

huggins death 2


The response to the death of Huggins was extensive. Huggins had a profound impact across the country and it didn’t seem like the baseball season mattered anymore, even though Art Fletcher had taken over as manager for the last 11 days of the season. On September 25, the Yankees defeated the Red Sox 11-10 in 11 innings without knowledge of their manager’s passing until the 6th inning, when players from both the Red Sox and Yankees lined up at home plate and had a moment of silence for the late Huggins. At the Polo Grounds, news of Huggins’ death came over telegraph and flags were moved off their poles and the New York Giants honored the late Huggins with a silent tribute. A lone banner ran at half-mast that honored the manager as “the last Flag” before a game with the Boston Braves.

One of the first syndicated columns about Huggins’ death talked about how size didn’t matter to him, even though he was only 5ft 5in, he commanded respect and obedience from players who played for him and with him. People had accused Huggins of having the biggest checkbook owners and a team that could not lose was his only reason for being successful, but it was tougher than that. Yet, this author saw the 1925 season, in which the Yankees finished in 7th place, as a reason to look away from that perspective. Huggins is the one who re-corralled Babe Ruth’s behavior as a Yankee in 1926, and was the reason Col. Ruppert never broke up the special 1927 Yankees because they were “too strong for the rest of the league.” The columnist said: “Now Huggins has gone. Perhaps the greatest possible testimonial to his ability will be the struggle which the Yankees owners face in trying to find a man to take his place.”

Baseball for the Yankees stopped on September 27, 1929 for their captain, who David P. Sentner stated Huggins had “a heart as big as a baseball park.” At the Little Church Around the Corner, Huggins had a team funeral held in his honor, and Sentner stated that Huggins would’ve been proud for the turnout and respect. Fans basically came in droves to the church to visit the open casket of the passed manager, because they mourned a winner in a city which loves winners. The Yankees players would march behind the casket as it was shipped to Cincinnati to be buried with his late parents. This was led by Babe Ruth, with whom Huggins originally had a rocky start with, but soon became good friends. Sentner believed that no one else on the team suffered more from the loss of Huggins than Ruth.

At the same time, it struck Col. Jacob Ruppert hard. Col. Ruppert had hired Huggins in 1918 to create a championship team out of the Yankees and stuck by him, even with the problems in the 1925 season. Ruppert was visibly shaken that Huggins was gone (along with Ed Barrow). Ruppert, a multi-millionaire, always attended World Series games up to 1929, but in 1929, he could not attend, still extremely hurt by the death of Huggins. A lot of what made things a lot more painful was that at his death bed, Huggins could not remember people who had visited him, such as his sister, Myrtle, in-laws, a good friend named Robert Connery, and most importantly, Col. Ruppert and Ed Barrow.


One of his final recorded statements about his 1929 season was this: “I guess I wasn’t born to be a loser.” Miller Huggins was never a loser, except in the fight for his own life. Baseball was Huggins’ life and he died playing the game he loved because he ignored his health in the same process. I do not mean that as demeaning in any way, just a statement of fact. Huggins was the first true Yankee manager, the one who brought the first three of 27 World Championships to the Bronx, and the first to be Col. Ruppert’s right-hand manager. While Huggins was replaced by Bob Shawkey as manager, I don’t think Col. Ruppert fully ever healed from the death of Huggins before his death in 1939. The origination of Monument Park is thanks to a monument built in center field at Yankee Stadium in 1932 for Miller Huggins. The late Huggins was named to the Hall of Fame in 1964 by the Veterans Committee, but it was for a career that ended much too soon, 86 years ago today.

Mailbag: Peraza, Wildcard, Cherington, Bird, Clarkin, Jeter

Got eleven questions for you in the mailbag this week. Send any and all questions to us at RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com throughout the week.

Peraza. (Presswire)
Peraza. (Presswire)

Michael asks: What would it take to acquire Jose Peraza? Are their any similar 2b prospects that might be available this offseason?

Peraza was traded from the Braves to the Dodgers at the trade deadline, but we can’t use that to estimate his trade value because it was a massive 13-player, three-team trade involving established big leaguers (Matt Latos, Alex Wood, Jim Johnson, Mike Morse), a big money Cuban player (Hector Olivera), and other prospects. Peraza is only 21 and he didn’t hit much in Triple-A this summer (94 wRC+), though he’s still young with a ton of speed and legitimate middle infield defensive chops, meaning he’s a top 100 caliber prospect.

The Dodgers are a win now team, and even with Corey Seager looking like a future superstar, they’ll still have a middle infield opening next season because Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick, and Chase Utley are all set to become free agents. Peraza could be penciled as the starting second baseman. I doubt Los Angeles would be interested in a prospect for prospect swap. They’ll want an actual big leaguer. One year of Ivan Nova doesn’t seem like enough — I’d want more if I were the Dodgers — but what about two years of Michael Pineda for Peraza plus more? I’m not saying I’d do it, but that is probably the kind of deal we’re talking about.

As far as similar second base prospects … there really aren’t any. There are very few actual second base prospects in baseball to begin with. The vast majority of big league second basemen are ex-shortstops.’s top 100 prospects list includes only four second basemen: Peraza, Red Sox 2B Yoan Moncada, Pirates 2B Alen Hansen, and Rockies 2B Forrest Wall. That’s it. It might be a while until the Yankees are able to find a long-term solution at second. Not many exist.

Dan asks: In a one game playoff against the Astros, how well do you think the Yankees would do against Dallas Keuchel? Seems like a nearly impossible task.

The impossible task is predicting what will happen in a random baseball game. Keuchel has been incredible this season (2.51 ERA and 2.90 FIP) and yes, he has destroyed the Yankees in his two starts against New York (16 scoreless innings), but that means nothing come the wildcard game. Anything can happen in any given game. That doesn’t make me feel any better about the Yankees possibly facing Keuchel, I’d rather them not face one of the ten best pitchers in baseball in a winner-take-all game, but it’s not a guaranteed loss either. Masahiro Tanaka is pretty good too, you know. Keuchel’s excellent and there are many reasons to believe runs would be at a premium should the Yankees face him in the wildcard game. How you or I feel doesn’t really matter.

Keuchel. (Presswire)
Keuchel. (Presswire)

Brad asks: Say the Yankees wrap up the first wild card berth, but there is a multiple team tie behind them for the second wild card. Houston, Minnesota, Cleveland and LA are all within 3 games of each other in the loss column. How would a 3 or 4 team tie in that scenario play out?

As long as the Yankees aren’t involved, I’m rooting for the second wildcard spot to come down to total chaos. Give me a big three or four-team tie and lots of tired players and pitchers down the stretch. Here’s what the rules say about three and four-team tiebreaker scenarios for the wildcard spot:

Three-Club Tie for One Wild Card Spot:
After Clubs have been assigned their A, B and C designations, Club A would host Club B. The winner of the game would then host Club C to determine the Wild Card Club.

Four-Club Tie for One Wild Card Spot:
After Clubs have been assigned their A, B, C and D designations, Club A would host Club B and Club C would host Club D. The winners of each of those games would then meet, hosted by the winner of the game between Club A and Club B, to determine the Wild Card Club.

The Team A, B, C, and D designations are based on head-to-head records and intradivision records and stuff like that. Click the link for the full explanation if you’re interested. It’s rather complicated. In the three-team scenario, you want to be Team C because you only have to win one tiebreaker game to win the wildcard spot. In the four-team scenario, it doesn’t matter. You have to win two tiebreaker games to win the wildcard spot no matter what. The Yankees are in great shape to claim the first wildcard spot, so feel free to join me in rooting for a massive tie for the second spot. I am forever on Team Chaos.

Bob asks: I read where Jorge Mateo will be playing in the Instructional League this fall as a second baseman. A few weeks ago, the Yankees named several of their top prospects for the Arizona Fall League. What is the difference between the Instructional League and the Arizona Fall League and what determines which prospects are assigned to these fall leagues?

The caliber of competition is much greater in the AzFL. It is mostly Double-A and Triple-A players there. Also some rehabbing big leaguers too. Instructional League is for players newest to pro ball like recent draftees and international signees. The youngest prospects, basically. Also, the coaching staffs in the AzFL are pieced together from different organizations. Instructional League is run by your coaches. The Yankees could have sent Mateo to the AzFL if they wanted — each organization can send one player who’s yet to play above Single-A — but then he’d be working on a new position with coaches from other organizations in actual games. Instructs are much more informal. He could get as much help as he needs from people working for the Yankees.

Ram asks: Is Jim Hendry still with the organization? If not, do you think Ben Cherington would ever be interested in that type of position? I know he doesn’t want to be a GM next year and the man’s incredibly well respected.

Hendry is still in the organization as a special advisor to Brian Cashman. He’s been with the Yankees since February 2012, a few months after being fired as Cubs GM. Hendry’s time as Cubs GM didn’t go well, but he’s very well-respected for his scouting acumen and is definitely a front office asset. In fact, he reportedly led negotiations with Scott Boras for first round pick James Kaprielian this summer.

Jon Heyman recently reported Cherington turned down an opportunity to interview for the Mariners GM job and is looking to spend time away from full-time GM work, so a special advisor role could suit him well. The Red Sox have been a disaster the last two years and most of the last five years, but Cherington’s a very bright dude who was a huge part of Boston’s success from 2004-13. (He was there before Theo Epstein). If he’s open to an advisory role, the Yankees should try to scoop him up. The more smart people in the front office, the better. (Especially with assistant GM Billy Eppler possibly on his way out this winter.)

Mike asks: Can you guys explain the playoff seeding? If the Yankees don’t overtake the Blue Jays and wind up having to play the Astros or Rangers in a play-in game, let’s pretend for a second that they win that game. The Yanks will still likely have a better record than whoever comes out of the AL West. So, in that case, who do they draw for the ALDS?

The winner of the wildcard game will play the team with the best record in the AL no matter what. Right now that’s the Royals but the Blue Jays are within striking distance and could pass them before the end of the season. It wouldn’t matter if the Yankees have a better record than the AL West division champ. Wildcard game winner plays the team with the best record in the league. Even if they’re in the same division. (The Yankees and Orioles played in the 2012 ALDS after the O’s won the wildcard game, remember.) Toronto is firing on all cylinders right now and I’d rather not see the Yankees face them in a best-of-five ALDS. Go Royals, I guess.

Bird. (Presswire)
Bird. (Presswire)

Samuel asks: After Tuesday’s game winning blast, can we reasonably say that Greg Bird has equaled or possibly even surpassed the production that we would have expected from Tex? (Offensively)

I think that’s fair. Bird went into last night’s game hitting .256/.333/.552 (139 wRC+) with ten homers in 35 games for the Yankees since being called up. Mark Teixeira hit .255/.357/.548 (143 wRC+) with 31 homers in 111 games before getting hurt, including .295/.378/.610 (169 wRC+) with nine homers in 29 games after the All-Star break. I don’t think Teixeira would have put up a 169 wRC+ for the entire second half, but I suppose it’s possible. Bird’s production has come mighty close to what we could have realistically expected from Teixeira down the stretch — Teixeira almost certainly would have walked more and struck out less — though I wouldn’t say he’s exceeded it. Defensively there’s no comparison, obviously. Teixeira has few peers in the field. Bird has been very good since coming up. The Yankees haven’t suffered much if at all offensively at first base following Teixeira’s injury.

Frank asks: Ian Clarkin. Did the Yanks somewhat deliberately not activate him this year so to not add to his time accumulation for team control?  If so, was it possible his injury may have been significantly less severe?

No. There’s no benefit to sitting out the year. It changes nothing. Clarkin will still be Rule 5 Draft eligible (2017-18 offseason) and minor league free agency eligible (2019-20 offseason) at the same time regardless of the injury. It also has no bearing on his big league arbitration or free agency eligibility either. There’s zero benefit to Clarkin sitting out the season, on the field or otherwise. Players that age and that stage of their development need innings. There’s no conspiracy there based on years of team control or anything. The injury doesn’t change that at all.

R.J. asks: If the Yankees end up in the wildcard, would you consider  (if you were manager) using your pitchers like an all-star game where Tanaka pitches 2 innings, Pineda 1 or 2, Sevy 1, CC 1 and bridge it to Dellin and Miller? Tanaka wouldn’t throw 80-100 pitches and he’ll be able to pitch say game 2 or 3 rather than game 4. Plus if throws a managers lineup off when CC comes in.

No, definitely not. I’m not a fan of using a “bullpen game” in a winner-take-all wildcard game at all. The more pitchers you use, the more likely you are to run into someone who just doesn’t have it that day, and that’s especially true when you’re talking about bringing starters out of the bullpen. Pineda, Luis Severino, and CC Sabathia have basically zero bullpen experience in their careers, remember. (They have 18 combined relief appearances in their careers, 13 from Pineda in rookie ball.) Give me a full start from Tanaka. I trust him implicitly. He just needs to get them through five innings in the wildcard game before Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Miller come into play, and Tanaka is capable of doing that and much more.

The Cap'n. (Presswire)
The Cap’n. (Presswire)

Adam asks: Now that Yogi is gone, who is the Greatest Living Yankee? I guess it’s Jeter, with honorable mention to Whitey Ford.

Derek Jeter for me. Jeter followed by Ford followed by Mariano Rivera. After that you have Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Alex Rodriguez, Willie Randolph, and Ron Guidry in some order. You could do this the boring way with WAR — based on bWAR, it would be Jeter (71.8) followed by Rivera (56.6), A-Rod (55.8), Ford (53.6), and Pettitte (51.6) — but anytime you’re talking about the “greatest living” player, I think there’s an unquantifiable “star” factor that has to be considered. Jeter wasn’t just a great player on the field, he was a mega-star in New York and at the center of a Yankees dynasty. Ford was part of a long-running dynasty too — he has six World Series rings, you know — and while I wasn’t alive in his era, I have a hard time believing he was popular as Jeter. Jeter is on the short list of the most popular athletes in New York sports history. That combined with his on-field production makes him the Great Living Yankee in my opinion.

Tom asks: Would you be in favor of a rule, that is reviewable, if a ground rule double is hit with a man on first and the runner has touched 3rd base before the ball goes over the fence the runner scores?

Yes, absolutely. We see ground-rule doubles cost teams run all the time — especially when there are two outs and the runner is going on contact — and it would be nice to have a way to correct that. The umpires are actually allowed to let the runner score if they feel he would have scored on the play, but they never call it. I don’t remember seeing it once. These types of plays could be tricky but the third base bag gives you a very nice back-and-white reference point. Did he touch the bag before the ball goes over the wall? If yes, then he scores. If not, he doesn’t score. Nice and easy. No judgement involved, just the hard yes or no answer based on visual evidence.

Beltran’s HR all Pineda needs in 3-2 win over the White Sox

(Source: Getty)

Always good to get a win, especially against Chris Sale this late in the season to give the Yankees a chance to take the AL East crown. Carlos Beltran‘s three-run homer is all the runs the Yankees needed as Michael Pineda pitched brilliantly and Dellin Betances escaped a scare in the seventh.

Carlos Belts one! 

The Yankees struck against Sale first in the third. Jacoby Ellsbury doubled to lead off the inning but got called out on fielder interference when he blocked Alexei Ramirez from reaching a Chase Headley pop up. As Headley remained on first base, A-Rod worked a walk and Beltran followed it up with a home run that just barely, barely got over the left field fence. 3-0 Yankees. Man, I wasn’t watching the White Sox broadcast but I can’t imagine Hawk Harrelson being happy about that one.

That was Beltran’s 18th dinger of the year. After tonight’s game, he is now good for a 120 wRC+ for this year. Man, April was such a long time ago, wasn’t it?

Big Mike

White Sox aren’t a good offensive team and it’s pretty well-documented. But, you know, seeing Big Mike with a strong outing like this on the cusp of postseason is not a bad thing.

(Source: Getty)

Pineda allowed the sole run of the game in the sixth. Trayce Thompson hit a long home run on a 92-mph fastball to put Sox on the board. That was the only major mistake Big Mike had all night. For the rest of the game, he was, well, vintage – great power stuff and good command all around to strike out eight in six strong innings.

Sweaty seventh

Justin Wilson started the seventh to replace Pineda. He got first two outs but walked Adam Eaton and allowed a single to Jose Abreu to put the runners in corners in a hurry. Naturally, Joe Girardi brought in Dellin Betances to get the last out of the frame.

Dellin has had trouble with command of late and tonight was no exception. Betances went to a full count against Melky Cabrera before missing with a 100-mph fastball outside to load the bases. Against Trayce Thompson, Dellin again went to full count and walked him to force in a run. 3-2. Still leading but not ideal. However, after a mound visit, Betances settled in and struck out Adam LaRoche in four pitches to get out of the frame.

Betances’s eighth went more swimmingly. He did allow a leadoff single to Alexei Ramirez but induced a quick DP against Carlos Sanchez and struck out Tyler Flowers.

And, as always, to close out the game, Andrew Miller pitched a scoreless one in the ninth for his 35th save.

Box score, standings, highlights and WPA

Here’s tonight’s box score, updated standing, video highlighs and WPA.

Source: FanGraphs

Yankees will have CC Sabathia against Carlos Rodon tomorrow for the second game of the four-game series. Sabathia is making a strong case for the postseason rotation and we’ll see if he can carry that momentum into tomorrow.

Update: Ian Clarkin added to Arizona Fall League roster

( screen grab)
( screen grab)

September 24th: Well, there has been a change of plans. MLB Pipeline reports Clarkin is instead heading to the Arizona Fall League, not Instructional League. That’s a pretty big deal. The AzFL is much more competitive than Instructs and less informal too — Clarkin is returning to true game action. He must be perfectly healthy. Good news.

September 22nd: This is some pretty encouraging news. Left-handed pitching prospect Ian Clarkin has been added to this year’s Instructional League roster, reports Josh Norris. Here is the original Instructional League roster. Instructs started last week and they start playing actual games next week.

Clarkin, 20, did not pitch at all during the minor league season this year due to an ongoing elbow issue. He was shut down with elbow inflammation in Spring Training, reportedly returned to throw some innings in Extended Spring Training in May, but had to be shut down again at some point.

According to assistant GM Billy Eppler, Clarkin has been on a throwing program in recent weeks, which advanced as far as facing hitters in live batting practice. Clarkin even posted a photo of himself throwing off a mound four weeks ago. The elbow injury, whatever it is, did not require surgery.

The assignment to Instructional League means Clarkin is healthy enough to pitch in actual games now, which is a big deal after the lost season. It’s not much — Instructs only last about four weeks, so he’ll get maybe 15-20 innings, if that — but it’s better than nothing. He needs to get some innings under his belt this year. More than zero.

Clarkin was the third of the Yankees’ three first round picks in the 2013 draft, following Eric Jagielo and Aaron Judge. The southpaw had a 3.12 ERA (3.65 FIP) with a 24.7% strikeout rate and a 7.6% walk rate in 75 innings last year, almost all with Low-A Charleston. He did made one late-season spot start with High-A Tampa.

I ranked Clarkin has New York’s second best pitching prospect coming into the season because he’s a four-pitch lefty — low-90s heater, cutter, changeup, curveball — with a bat-missing breaking ball to go with good location and deception. He doesn’t necessarily have ace upside, but Clarkin is a no-doubt starter with few flaws. A boringly good prospect, I’d say.

Given how aggressively the Yankees have moved their prospects the last year or two, Clarkin might have made it to Double-A Trenton this summer, if healthy. That would have put him in position to help at the MLB level next year. Injuries happen, that’s part of pitching, so Clarkin’s development has hit a bump in the road. Hopefully next year he can pick right up where he left off in 2014.

Game 152: The Final Homestand


Welcome to the final homestand of the 2015 regular season. With any luck, the Yankees will play a few more games at Yankee Stadium in the postseason as well. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. There are still a bunch of eight home games against a pair of Soxes to play first.

The White Sox are in town for a four-game series, and while the Yankees are sitting pretty in the wildcard standings, they do need to actually win some games to make sure they clinch. The magic number for a postseason berth is seven and it would be cool to celebrate that at home during the homestand. Here is the White Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. RF Carlos Beltran
  5. LF Chris Young
  6. C John Ryan Murphy
  7. 1B Dustin Ackley
  8. 2B Rob Refsnyder
  9. SS Brendan Ryan
    RHP Michael Pineda

It has been nice and sunny in New York today and it’ll be cool and clear tonight. Pretty much exactly what you expect in late-September. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Wilkerman Garcia ranked among top 20 Gulf Coast League prospects by Baseball America

Garcia. ( screen grab)
Garcia. ( screen grab)

Baseball America’s breakdown of the top 20 prospects in each minor league continued today with the rookie level Gulf Coast League. As always, the list is free but the scouting reports are not. You need a subscription for those. Red Sox RHP Anderson Espinoza sits in the top spot and is followed by Nationals OF Victor Robles and Astros OF Kyle Tucker.

The Yankees have just one player on the GCL list: SS Wilkerman Garcia, who ranks sixth. Interestingly, Garcia is right smack in the middle of a group that includes 2015 first rounders Phillies SS Cornelius Randolph (tenth overall pick, ranked fifth in GCL), Rays OF Garrett Whitley (13th overall, seventh in GCL), and Tigers RHP Beau Burrows (22nd overall, eight in GCL).

“He’s a switch-hitter with a sound hitting approach from both sides, using all fields and showing good patience and bat-to-ball skills,” said the write-up of Garcia while noting he’s a very instinctive player. “While scouts from other clubs felt Garcia would fit better at second or third base, the Yankees were convicted he could play shortstop. He’s backed up their confidence by showing a plus arm, good hands and footwork along with a knack for slowing the game down.”

The Yankees signed the 17-year-old Garcia for $1.35M last summer as part of their massive international spending spree. That’s late first round money, so I guess it makes sense he’s ranked among a bunch of actual first round picks in the GCL top 20. Anyway, Garcia hit .281/.396/.347 (131 wRC+) with more walks (16.0%) than strikeouts (12.7%) in 37 games for the GCL Yanks this summer.

In the subscriber-only chat, Ben Badler said 3B Dermis Garcia “wasn’t really in the mix” for the top 20 despite receiving the largest bonus ($3.2M) among last year’s international haul. “He does have huge raw power and a big arm, but he’s still fairly crude as expected as a hitter and is going to have to keep his conditioning in check going forward,” said Badler. RHP Gilmael Troya, who signed for $10,000 last year, was considered for the list because his velocity jumped into the low-90s and he has a “chance for an above-average curveball and pretty solid feel for pitching.”

The next list of interest to Yankees fans is the Short Season NY-Penn League, which will be posted either tomorrow or early next week. RHP Domingo Acevedo is a lock for the NYPL top 20 and others like IF Thairo Estrada and SS Kyle Holder should receive consideration as well. First rounder RHP James Kaprielian and second rounder LHP Jeff Degano weren’t with the Staten Island Yankees long enough to qualify for the list.

Other league top 20s: Rookie Appalachian League

9/24 to 9/27 Series Preview: Chicago White Sox

Robin Ventura

It’s not often the Yankees play a non-AL East team this late in the season — they’ve played only six series against a non-division rival after September 20th since 2005 — but the final homestand of the season begins tonight with the first of four against the White Sox. There are only eight regular season games at Yankee Stadium remaining in 2015. Hopefully there will be many more in October. The Yankees took two of three from the White Sox in Chicago in early-August.

What Have The White Sox Done Lately?

The ChiSox just split four games with the Tigers — they won the first two games then lost the last two — and have won only three of their last eight games overall. Chicago is 72-80 with a -69 run differential on the season. Amazingly, the White Sox are still mathematically alive in the wildcard race. Barely alive, but alive nonetheless.

Offense & Defense

Runs have not come easily for the ChiSox this season. They average only 3.97 runs per game with a team 88 wRC+, both of which are bottom five marks in MLB. U.S. Cellular Field is pretty hitter friendly, remember. Manager Robin Ventura’s only injured player is 1B Adam LaRoche (78 wRC+), who is day-to-day while nursing a knee injury.

The Melkman. (Presswire)
The Melkman. (Presswire)

Ventura has had two even average hitters in his lineup all season: leadoff man OF Adam Eaton (114 wRC+) and three-hole hitter 1B Jose Abreu (133 wRC+). That’s it. OF Tryace Thompson (162 wRC+) has done quite well in a sample of 94 plate appearances. (Tryace is Klay’s brother.) Ex-Yankee OF Melky Cabrera (95 wRC+) started very slow but has been better in recent weeks, posting a 121 wRC+ since the All-Star break. OF Avisail Garcia (84 wRC+) doesn’t look like he’s ever going to live up those “mini-Miguel Cabrera” comparisons he got as a prospect.

SS Alexei Ramirez (72 wRC+) has had the worst season of his career in 2015. 2B Micah Johnson (62 wRC+ in limited time) and IF Carlos Sanchez (66 wRC+) are platooning at second and IF Mike Olt (63 wRC+ in limited time) has taken over as the everyday third baseman. IF Tyler Saladino (71 wRC+) started hot but has since played his way onto the bench, where he joins IF Gordon Beckham (59 wRC+) and OF J.B. Shuck (97 wRC+ in limited time). C Geovany Soto (96 wRC+) somehow gets fewer at-bats than C Tyler Flowers (71 wRC+). UTIL Leury Garcia and C Rob Brantly are the September call-ups.

The White Sox are also a sneaky bad defensive team. Eaton has a reputation for being good but the defensive stats hate him this year and have pretty much every season of his career aside from 2014. Melky has a strong arm but his routes are as bad as ever, and while Garcia has a penchant for robbing homers, he lacks range. Sanchez is a very good defender and Ramirez remains solid — not what he once was, but still solid — but otherwise the rest of the infield is below-average. For what it’s worth, Flowers rates exceptionally well as a pitch-framer. He’s also thrown out roughly one-quarter of attempted base-stealers, which is below-average.

Pitching Matchups

Thursday (7pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. CWS) vs. LHP Chris Sale (vs. NYY)
The Yankees almost missed Sale this series. Almost. He was scheduled to start yesterday’s game, but the ChiSox decided to give rookie righty Frankie Montas a spot start instead, so Sale goes tonight. For shame. Sale, 26, has a 3.47 ERA (2.67 FIP) in 29 starts and 194.2 innings this year. His strikeout rate (32.5%) leads qualified AL starters and is second in MLB to Clayton Kershaw (32.9%). Sale’s walk rate (5.0%) is very good while both his grounder (42.9%) and homer (0.97 HR/9) numbers are hovering around the league average. He has a negligible platoon split (.285 vs. 282 wOBA in favor of righties). Sale actually added velocity this year and now sits in the mid-90s with his two-seamer and will occasionally touch 97-98. He was more low-90s and touching 95-96 the last few years. Both his mid-80s changeup and upper-70s slider are swing-and-miss pitches. The relatively high ERA has more to do with the team defense than anything Sale has done. He’s tremendous.

Friday (7pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. CWS) vs. LHP Carlos Rodon (vs. NYY)
The White Sox selected the 22-year-old Rodon with the third overall pick in last summer’s draft, and he was in the big leagues by April. Rodon has a 3.78 ERA (3.81 FIP) in 133.1 innings spread across 22 starts and three relief appearances, and he’s been excellent of late, pitching to a 1.66 ERA (3.41 FIP) in his last seven starts and 48.2 innings. Chicago has been spacing out his starts to keep his workload down these last few weeks. Maybe that’s helping his performance. Anyway, Rodon walks too many batters (11.4%) but otherwise has good to great strikeout (23.3%), grounder (47.4%), and homer (0.74 HR/9) rates. He’s crushed lefties (.227 wOBA) and gotten crushed by righties (.354 wOBA). Rodon lives in the mid-90s with his two and four-seam fastballs, and his moneymaker is a filthy upper-80s slider. That’s the pitch that got him drafted so high. Rodon also throws a few mid-80s changeups per start. The Yankees pounded Rodon for eight runs in three innings in their meeting last month.

Rodon. (Presswire)
Rodon. (Presswire)

Saturday (4pm ET): RHP Adam Warren (vs. CWS) vs. LHP John Danks (vs. NYY)
The Yankees have Andrew Bailey on the roster trying to come back following shoulder capsule surgery. The 30-year-old Danks is a reminder Bailey may never get back to where he was before surgery. Danks had his shoulder capsule repaired in 2012 and has a 4.69 ERA (4.78 FIP) in 498.2 innings since returning, including a 4.59 ERA (4.57 FIP) in 28 starts and 166.2 innings this year. It was a 4.12 ERA (4.19 FIP) in 971.1 innings before the injury. Danks is actually one of the lucky ones. Many don’t make it back from a torn capsule at all. Anyway, Danks has a good walk rate (7.0%) but below-average strikeout (16.3%), grounder (38.7%), and homer (1.30 HR/9) numbers this year. Righties (.351 wOBA) have hammered him compared to lefties (.304 wOBA). Danks lives in the upper-80s with his two and four-seam fastballs post-shoulder surgery, and a notch below that with his cutter. A low-80s changeup is his go-to offspeed pitch, and he’ll also flip a few mid-70s curveballs per start as well. He held New York to one run in 5.2 innings last month. Danks always seems to pitch well against the Yankees, doesn’t he? The numbers are not as good as I expected though.

Sunday (1pm ET): RHP Luis Severino (No vs. CWS) vs. TBA
Chicago’s starter for Sunday is still listed as TBA, but in all likelihood it will be right-hander Jeff Samardzija, who is having a yucky walk year. The 30-year-old has a 5.04 ERA (4.18 FIP) in 31 starts and 207 innings this season, though to his credit, he chucked a one-hit shutout against the Tigers last time out. Only threw 88 pitches too. Samardzija’s walk rate (5.6%) is very good but his strikeout (18.1%), grounder (39.4%), and homer (1.17 HR/9) numbers are all below-average. He’s also been hit way harder by lefties (.356 wOBA) than righties (.302 wOBA). Samardzija operates with a mid-90s four-seamer and a low-90s cutter, which set up mid-80s sliders and splitters. The slider is for righties, the splitter for lefties. The Yankees scored nine runs in 4.2 innings against the former Notre Dame wide receiver back in August. If Samardzija doesn’t start Sunday, it figures to be either righty Erik Johnson or lefty Jose Quintana.

The Yankees, meanwhile, have listed Pineda, Sabathia, Warren, and Severino as their starters for this series in that order, though it’s possible they will change gears and re-insert Masahiro Tanaka into the rotation at some point. They have several options to get him lined up for the wildcard games. If Tanaka doesn’t pitch this series, then he figures to make just one final regular season tune-up start against the Red Sox in the next series.

Bullpen Status
Unsurprisingly, Ventura is working with a stinky bullpen. Former Yankee RHP David Robertson (3.34 ERA/2.47 FIP) is the closer, and although he’s struggled a little of late, he’s been pretty good overall. (The Yankees didn’t see him in Chicago a few weeks ago.) LHP Zach Duke (3.64/4.67) and RHP Nate Jones (3.44/4.94) are Robertson’s primary setup men. Former Yankees draft pick Jake Petricka (3.73/3.42) will see high-leverage work as well.

RHP Matt Albers (1.29/3.51), LHP Dan Jennings (4.15/3.57), and RHP Zach Putnam (3.91/4.21) are Ventura’s other regular relievers. The crop of September call-ups includes RHP Scott Carroll and RHP Daniel Webb. Carroll, Webb, Putnam, and Jennings all pitched yesterday. Our Bullpen Workload page can keep you updated on Joe Girardi‘s bullpen. Head over to South Side Sox for the latest and greatest on the ChiSox.

(GIF via @cjzero)