In his latest minor league rehab game with Double-A Trenton, Curtis Granderson went 1-for-3 with a walk and a triple to right field. He popped out to third and flew out to center in his other two at-bats. Granderson played six innings in left field as well, though his bat is more of a concern at this point given the nature of his injury (hand). Mike Ashmore says Curtis will play with the Thunder again tomorrow, and rumor has it he could rejoin the team for the Padres series this weekend.
In the same game, David Phelps (forearm) allowed one run on three hits and two walks in four innings. He struck out six and got four ground ball outs compared to one in the air (popup). The other out came on a pickoff by the catcher. Phelps threw 50 of his 76 pitches for strikes (66%). I don’t know what the plan is now, but I assume he’ll make one more rehab start before joining the team unless the big league club suddenly needs a pitcher. · (2) ·
The Yankees are on the West Coast to play the Dodgers, so the game won’t start for another few hours. Until the regular game thread goes up, use this as your open thread to pass the time. The Mets are playing the Marlins (Wheeler vs. Eovaldi) and MLB Network will air a game as well. Who you see depends on where you live. For the latest on the Bombers leading up to the trade deadline, check out today’s post. Otherwise, talk about whatever you like here. · (39) ·
The annual non-waiver trade deadline is 4pm ET on Wednesday, so pretty much one day away. The Yankees have already pulled off one pre-deadline deal by acquiring Alfonso Soriano and a bunch of cash from the Cubs for minor league righty Corey Black. They were desperate for a right-handed power bat and the trade has already paid dividends, as Soriano hit a two-run homer and a walk-off single on Sunday.
That move was a good first step, but the Yankees need much more help than that. They need an everyday third baseman — seven different players have combined to hit .217/.276/.288 (55 OPS+) at the hot corner this year — especially since it looks increasingly unlikely Alex Rodriguez will return to the team at some point. A righty platoon bat for Lyle Overbay, a catcher, and maybe even a starting pitcher should be on the trade deadline shopping list as well.
The Yankees haven’t made a notable trade at the deadline since way back in 2006, when they brought in Bobby Abreu. By notable trade, a mean a legitimate above-average player. Someone who didn’t require you to squint your eyes and say “maybe he has something left in the tank.” I don’t know if the team will buck that trend in the next 24 hours or so, but if they were ever going to do it, this would be the perfect time.
We’re going to keep track of the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here in this post, so check back often. All times are ET, obviously. Talk about anything trade deadline related — rumors, crazy hypotheticals, etc. — here as well.
- 10:33pm: Forget about Callaspo, he has reportedly been traded to the Athletics. [Rosenthal]
- 7:16pm: Young has ruled out a trade to the Yankees and the team no longer has interest in Rios. [Andrew Marchand & Buster Olney]
- 6:40pm: The Yankees have interest in Alberto Callaspo and have spoken to the Angels about him. Unclear if talks are serious at all. [Danny Knobler]
- 5:49pm: Mike Morse is very available, but the Yankees and Mariners have not yet had any serious talks. When the Nationals made Morse available over the winter, they wanted Ramon Flores and Jose Ramirez in return. [Sherman & Josh Norris]
- 4:41pm: The Yankees have renewed their interest in Alex Rios. He recently said he would agree to waive his no-trade clause to come to New York after reports to the contrary. [Scott Merkin]
- 3:59pm: With 24 hours to go before the deadline, the Yankees are focused on finding a righty platoon partner for Overbay and perhaps a trade to rid themselves of Joba Chamberlain. I suppose they could accomplish both at once. [Sherman]
- 3:01pm: The Yankees are not completely out on Young at this point, but their chances of landing him are “very limited.” [Heyman]
- 1:50pm: Young will only waive his no-trade clause to return to the Rangers. So much for that idea. [Ken Rosenthal]
- 1:05pm: If Young is indeed being traded soon, the Yankees say it won’t be to them. [Joel Sherman]
- 12:19pm: The Phillies are planning to call up third base prospect Cody Asche, which is a pretty strong indication Young will be traded soon. Not necessarily to the Yankees, mind you. Several other clubs (Red Sox, Rangers, etc.) are said to be interested. [Jeff Passan]
- 12:00pm: The Yankees are still bugging the Giants about Hunter Pence, but there doesn’t appear to be a match at this point. San Francisco plans to make the outfielder a qualifying offer after the season, so any trade return would have to be greater than the value of a supplemental first round pick. [Jon Heyman]
- The team continues to monitor Michael Young, which they’ve been doing for quite some time now. The Phillies recently indicated they are willing to move their third baseman as well as some other players. [Andy Martino]
- Ownership has a “strong desire to reinforce this team and find a way to get in the playoffs,” said Brian Cashman. The Soriano trade is a prime example of that. [Bryan Hoch]
For the second time this season, baseball’s two biggest payrolls will meet for a quick little two-game set. The Yankees and Dodgers split two games in the Bronx back in May, and now the series moves out west. It was much more fun when Don Mattingly returned to Yankee Stadium, that’s for sure.
What Have They Done Lately?
If the Rays are the hottest team in baseball, the Dodgers are the hottest team in the NL. They’ve won nine of ten games since the All-Star break and 26 of their last 32 games overall. At 56-48 with a +9 run differential, Los Angeles has a nice 2.5-game lead in the NL West.
With an average of 4.0 runs per game and a team 104 wRC+, the Dodgers are a below-average run scoring team and an above-average offensive team. Does that make sense? They hit well but don’t score as many runs as you’d expect. They have some timing issues, evidence by their 85 wRC+ with runners in scoring position. OF Matt Kemp (95 wRC+) is on the DL with an ankle issue and won’t return this series.
The top of manager Don Mattingly’s lineup is where all the fun happens. OF Carl Crawford (117 wRC+) leads off, and he is expected to return to the lineup tonight after being under the weather for a few days. OF Yasiel Puig (185 wRC+) bats second, 1B Adrian Gonzalez (130 wRC+) bats third, and the molten hot SS Hanley Ramirez (210 wRC+) cleans up. He’s been unbelievable after missing the start of the year with thumb and hamstring problems.
OF Andre Ethier (107 wRC+) and the underrated C A.J. Ellis (109 wRC+) provide some nice lineup help from the five and six spots. 3B Juan Uribe (104 wRC+) and 2B Mark Ellis (92 wRC+) round out the rest of the regulars. On the bench, Mattingly has C Tim Federowicz (61 wRC+), UTIL Jerry Hairston Jr. (87 wRC+), UTIL Elian Herrera (38 wRC+ in limited time), and OF Skip Schumaker (96 wRC+). They lack that big power bat for key pinch-hitting spots.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Tuesday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP Zack Greinke
Two games against the Dodgers, two former Cy Young Award winners on the mound. Such is life. Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy winner, has a 3.49 ERA (3.81 FIP) in 16 starts this year, including strong walk (2.85 BB/9 and 7.6 BB%) and homer (0.83 HR/9 and 10.2% HR/FB) rates. The 29-year-old’s strikeout (6.89 K/9 and 18.4 K%) and ground ball (44.3%) numbers leave something to be desired though, especially for a guy who signed for close to $150M. Greinke is a true six-pitch pitcher, using three fastballs (low-90s two-seamer, low-90s four-seamer, upper-80s cutter) to set up his three offspeed pitches (mid-80s changeup, low-80s slider, mid-70s curveball). The curve and changeup see more time than the slider. Believe it or not, the Yankees have faced Greinke just once in the last five years. They punished him for seven runs in two innings back in 2011.
Wednesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw
For my money, Kershaw is the best pitcher in the world. The he 2011 NL Cy Young Award winner brings a 1.96 ERA (2.50 FIP) into this start, not to mention a gaudy strikeout rate (8.76 K/9 and 25.5 K%), a gaudier walk rate (1.96 BB/9 and 5.7 BB%), an excellent homer rate (0.51 HR/9 and 6.5% HR/FB), and a decent ground ball rate (45.2%). He’s a stud. The 25-year-old (!) Kershaw is basically a three-pitch pitcher, using a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a wipeout mid-80s slider, and a hammer mid-70s curve. All three are legit swing-and-miss pitches. He’ll also throw the rare mid-80s changeup. He’s ridiculous. Kershaw has actually pitched against the Yankees once before, holding them to two runs in seven innings back in 2010. You might remember him breaking a bone in Brett Gardner‘s wrist with a pitch in that game. That was before Kershaw made the leap from promising youngster to dominant ace.
After a few rocky weeks in May and June, Mattingly’s bullpen has fallen into place in recently. RHP Kenley Jansen (2.22 FIP) has replaced RHP Brandon League (4.80 FIP) as closer, and the team recently added RHP Carlos Marmol (9.42 FIP) as well. That’s three Proven Closers™, but only one is actually above-average. The other two see mostly low and medium-leverage situations.
LHP Paco Rodriguez (1.07 FIP vs. LHB), a 2012 draft pick, is already a shutdown lefty specialist. LHP J.P. Howell (2.65 FIP) is another strong matchup guy, and the Yankees are familiar with him from his days with the Rays. RHP Ronald Belisario (3.55 FIP) is the guy who did this, and he rounds out the bullpen alongside RHP Chris Withrow (3.31 FIP in limited time). Outside of the lefties, there are some seriously hard throwers in this ‘pen.
Both the Yankees and the Dodgers were off on Monday, so their bullpens are as rested as can be this time of year. Check out our Bullpen Workload page to see who pitched when, then check out Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness and True Blue LA for the latest and greatest on the Dodgers. They’re two of my very favorite team-specific sites on the web.
Although they are just a handful of games out of the second wildcard spot with more than two months to play, the Yankees are unquestionably at a franchise crossroads. The late-1990s dynasty era players are on their last legs, in some cases almost literally, while the self-imposed 2014 payroll plan threatens to undermine their ability to navigate around some ugly long-term commitments. There are strong cases to be made for going all-in on the short-term and rebuilding for the long-term.
Based on our poll from two weeks ago, fans are split almost evenly between buying and selling before tomorrow’s trade deadline. The Yankees could try to make one last run with Mariano Rivera or kick start a rebuild by dealing off anyone drawing interest, and both options are perfectly reasonable. I fall on the “try to make on last run with Mo” side, but that’s just me. Beyond this season is another story, however. Pretty much no one will disagree with me when I say the Yankees are probably going to get a whole lot worse before they return to being legitimate World Series contenders.
That’s the dilemma the team will face this coming offseason. Do they continue to hold things together with gum and duct tape or try to build a viable young core to anchor the franchise moving forward? Ownership wants to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold to reap the (smaller than anticipated) financial benefits and that’s fine; it’s their team and they can do whatever they hell they want. At the same time, they’ve sent mixed messages and made reaching that goal even more difficult by trading for Alfonso Soriano and re-signing Ichiro Suzuki to contracts that impact the 2014 payroll.
The Yankees are in danger of becoming a team that is stuck in the middle going forward, meaning a club that isn’t good enough to legitimately contend and not bad enough to completely tear down. They’re there right now, really. Look at say, the 2012 Phillies or the 2010 Angels to get an idea of how that story ends if only half-measures are taken. The Yankees are going to have to decide this offseason whether they want to continue to try to contend or take a step back and rebuild. Ownership and the baseball ops people have to agree with the direction, come up with a plan, and stick to it. They can’t have one group going one way and another group going a different way.
The reason this decision has to be made this winter and not next year or the year after is Robinson Cano. He’s due a massive contract, and I have a very hard time seeing how the Yankees can given him that contract and legitimately contend while staying under the luxury tax threshold. It’s doable, sure, I just have a hard time seeing how without some great production from unexpected places (young prospects, old veterans, etc.). Cano’s a star of the first order, but does the team want to give him a nine-figure deal only to handcuff themselves financially and not surround him with quality players during his remaining years as an elite player? Wouldn’t that completely defeat the purpose of re-signing him?
Given the state of the organization, from the Major League roster on down through the farm system, it appears the team will have to decide between re-signing Cano, scrapping the payroll plan, and going for it, or letting Cano walk, sticking to the payroll plan, and rebuilding rather soon. I don’t see how they can do both, retain Cano and stay under the luxury tax threshold, while contending. There are two very clear sides here and everyone has to get together and pick one. Is there a right answer? I don’t know, but I do know the wrong one: the one that keeps the team in the middle between contender and rebuilder. Pick one of the two and go all-in to accomplish it.
Via NYDN: Commissioner Bud Selig is prepared to invoke one of the office’s most extreme privileges and ban Alex Rodriguez from baseball if the embattled Yankees does indeed pass on a plea deal to fight a Biogenesis-related suspension. Article XI, Section A1b of the Collective Bargaining Agreement allows the commissioner to ban someone to preserve the integrity of the game, basically.
If Selig were to go to that extreme, he would be bypassing both the grievance/appeals process and the Joint Drug Agreement, the only document that addresses performance-enhancing drug discipline. They’d rely on evidence showing A-Rod tried to interfere with the Biogenesis investigation, not necessarily evidence showing he purchased a banned substance. It’s pretty obvious MLB and the league is leaking this stuff in an attempt to pressure Alex, and even if Selig did invoke the rule to ban him, it would result in a monster legal battle. A-Rod would have nothing to lose at that point. Seems like a scare tactic, really. · (208) ·
Triple-A Scranton (5-3 loss to Louisville)
- CF Adonis Garcia: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K
- 3B David Adams: 0-4, 2 K, 1 E (throwing)
- DH Randy Ruiz: 3-4, 2 2B, 1 RBI — 14 homers but only eight doubles
- C J.R. Murphy: 1-4, 1 CS — in a little 10-for-40 (.250) slide
- RHP Chris Bootcheck: 6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HB, 7/3 GB/FB — 65 of 104 pitches were strikes (63%) … 26 runs allowed in his last 47.2 innings (4.91 R/9)
The Yankees are off this evening as they travel out to the West Coast, so it’s a good time to forget about baseball for a while and just relax a bit. If you can’t do that, you can watch the Mets and Marlins (Hefner vs. Turner on SNY) or the Angels and Rangers (Weaver vs. Garza on ESPN). You can talk about those games, Wednesday’s trade deadline, or pretty much anything else right here in the open thread. Enjoy.
Via Steven Marcus: No Biogenesis announcements are expected to come today. Yesterday we heard the league is planning to announce all the suspensions at the same time this week, and reportedly they are hoping to get an answer from Alex Rodriguez’s camp about a possible plea agreement at some point today. I was getting worried this story wouldn’t drag on any longer, so needless to say, I’m relieved by this news. · (25) ·
Via Ken Rosenthal: The Yankees had not received any trade offers for right-hander Phil Hughes as of yesterday. The team has reportedly been “aggressively pushing” him on the market in hopes of landing a bat, though that was before the recent Alfonso Soriano trade.
Hughes, 27, has a 4.58 ERA (4.64 FIP) in 112 innings across 20 starts this year. To no one’s surprise, his home/road splits are rather drastic. The Yankees aren’t exactly blessed with a ton of pitching depth at the moment, and if they’re not going to get a decent bat in return, they should just hold onto Hughes for the second half. No point in making a move just to make a move. · (74) ·