Via George King: Following Friday’s private workout at the team’s complex in Tampa, the Yankees want to talk about a contract with Cuban free agent Rusney Castillo. They like him more at second base than in the outfield, which puts them in the minority. Castillo has experience both on the middle infield and in the outfield. The Yankees had scouts from several different departments at the workout.
“This guy could get $35M to $50M because of what (Jose) Abreu, (Yoenis) Cespedes and (Yasiel) Puig have done, but eventually somebody is going to be wrong about one of these guys,” said a scout to King. Another pointed out “the league he played in Cuba wasn’t great but there is momentum, who knows?”
Castillo, who hit against the rehabbing Preston Claiborne (shoulder) during the workout, has already been declared a free agent by MLB and unblocked by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, so he is free to sign at any time. He has also had private workouts with Phillies, Red Sox, and Cubs, plus the Tigers, Giants, White Sox, and Mariners have shown interest as well. Castillo has been billed a speedy leadoff hitter type with surprising pop. · (223) ·
11:31pm: Joe Girardi told reporters McCann will be re-evaluated tomorrow, which will determine if he needs to be placed on the disabled list.
10:18pm: McCann has been diagnosed with a mild concussion, though there really is no such thing as a mild brain injury. It’s unclear if he will be placed on the 7-day concussion disabled list.
9:49pm: Brian McCann left tonight’s game for an unknown reason in the sixth inning. He took a hard foul tip to the face mask earlier in the game, but did stay in for another few innings. I supposed the Yankees could be playing it safe with him after taking a big lead. They do have catching depth in the minors, but losing McCann for any length of time would be pretty bad. Stay tuned for updates. · (38) ·
I think we can all agree the 2014 Yankees like to do things the hard way, yes? They beat the Indians by the score of 10-6 in Friday night’s series opener, but they really had to work for it, especially in the later innings. Whatever. At 61-54, the Yankees are seven games over .500 for the first time all season. Let’s recap:
- Five-Run First: The Yankees scored five runs and sent ten men to the plate in the first inning, and exactly three of them hit the ball out of the infield. Some sloppy infield defense and three Trevor Bauer walks fueled the rally, which included run-scoring singles by Carlos Beltran, Stephen Drew, and Martin Prado. Chase Headley drew a bases loaded walk. Carlos Santana flat out muffed a catch on a throw from shortstop at first base, and Jason Kipnis threw away a ball when he flipped it to second trying to turn a double play. Brett Gardner, the team’s best player, made the first and last out of the inning. Go figure. I missed innings like that so much. Everything went right.
- Can’t Spell Esmil Without Smile: One run in five innings from spot starter Esmil Rogers? I’m pretty sure we all would have signed up for that heading into the game. I know I would have. The right-hander used fastballs and sliders to hold the Tribe to four hits and a walk in those five innings, and at one point he retired ten of 12 batters. Rogers struck out three and got seven of his other 12 outs in the air, which is fine given the team’s outfield defense. At this point, I think the Yankees could pull anyone out of the stands, slap pinstripes on him, and get a winnable start. What a job the staff has done of late.
- Blown Open: Five runs in the first, five runs in the sixth. The Indians intentionally walked Jacoby Ellsbury to load the bases for Beltran for whatever reason, and he unloaded on a John Axford hanging curveball for a grand slam. Ichiro Suzuki and Gardner drew walks earlier in the inning. The Yankees plated another run on another error later in the inning. They scored ten total runs thanks to a pair of five-run innings, and in those innings they hit a total of five balls out of the infield. Crazy.
- No Easy Wins: It’s amazing how this team is allergic to easy wins. The five-run sixth gave them a nice and comfy 10-2 lead, right? Bring in Bryan Mitchell and let him bring it home, right? Nope. Shawn Kelley started the seventh, faced four batters, retired none, and left the bases loaded for Adam Warren. He served up a two-run double and a sac fly. The Indians answered the Yankees’ five-run sixth with a four-run seventh to make it 10-6. Sigh. Thankfully Warren, Rich Hill, and Dellin Betances navigated the eighth and ninth without much of a problem. Still sucks they even had to get into a game like this.
- Leftovers: Derek Jeter‘s first inning infield single was the 3,430th hit of his career, tying him for Honus Wagner for sixth place on the all-time list. He won’t catch Tris Speaker (3,514) for fifth place, so he’ll eventually retire in sole possession of sixth place on the all-time hit list. Not bat at all … Brian McCann left the game with a mild concussion, and Frankie Cervelli joined Beltran as the only players with two hits. Gardner (double, walk), McCann (single, walk), Ellsbury (three walks), and Ichiro (single, walk) all reached base multiple times. Headley and Ellsbury were the only players without hits … the lineup had more walks (seven) than strikeouts (five) for the AL-leading 13th time this year.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has some other stats, and ESPN has the updated standings. The Orioles won and the Blue Jays lost, so the Yankees moved into second place in the AL East and are still five back of Baltimore. They are a half-game back of the Royals for the second wildcard spot. FanGraphs has their postseason odds at 24.6%. The Yankees and Indians will play the second game of this series on Saturday afternoon (Brandon McCarthy vs. Corey Kluber), but first the team will unveil Paul O’Neill’s plaque in Monument Park. Head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch the ceremony and the game live.
As always, the notes come first:
- SS Yonauris Rodriguez made the Helium Watch section of this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. The Yankees signed him for $570k last year and he’s currently hitting .324/.444/.438 (159 wRC+) in the Dominican Summer League. After being billed as a glove-first player when he signed, Baseball America says “Rodriguez is a more advanced, more complete player than scouts were projecting him to be at this time a year ago.”
- Apparently I missed this at some point recently, but the Yankees have released RHP Bruce Billings. I know this because Eric Stephen says he signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers yesterday. Well then. Carry on.
- Baseball America published their best tools surgery for both High Class-A and Low Class-A today. OF Aaron Judge appeared on both, grabbing Best Outfield Arm (High-A) and Best Power Prospect (Low-A). No other Yankees’ farmhands appeared in the surveys.
Triple-A Scranton (2-1 loss to Columbus) tonight’s promotion was “What If” night, so they played as the Trolley Frogs instead of the RailRiders … Trolley Frogs lost the fan voting when the team changed named a few years ago
- DH Jose Pirela, RF Zoilo Almonte & 3B Zelous Wheeler: all 0-4 — Pirela and Wheeler each struck out once
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-3, 1 BB
- 1B Kyle Roller: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI
- C John Ryan Murphy: 2-4
- RHP Michael Pineda: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 52 of 72 pitches were strikes (72%) … had more on his rehab outing earlier
- RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K — 14 of 21 pitches were strikes (66%)
- RHP Branden Pinder: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K — 12 of 18 pitches were strikes (66%)
In his second rehab start with Triple-A Scranton, Michael Pineda struck out seven in 4.1 innings of one-run ball. He allowed six hits and did not walk a batter. Fifty-two of his 72 pitches were strikes, and Donnie Collins says he sat 92-94 with his fastball. Pineda was scheduled to throw 70-80 pitches or so after throwing 58 pitches last time out. He’s been on the shelf since late-April due to a muscle problem in his back/shoulder.
Joe Girardi and the Yankees have hinted that Pineda could return to the rotation next week if this start went well. He lines up perfectly to replace Esmil Rogers, who made the spot start tonight in place of the injured David Phelps. The rotation has performed well of late, but obviously getting Pineda back would be huge. I’m sure it’ll be a day or two before we learn what the next step will be. He seems to be healthy and that’s the most important thing. · (12) ·
With tonight’s spot start, Esmil Rogers will become the 12th different pitcher to start a game for the Yankees this season. They last used that many starting pitchers back in 2008, when they used 13 different starters because of injuries and also because they used September to see what they had in Ian Kennedy and Alfredo Aceves once they were out of the race. The Yankees used either eight or nine different starters every year from 2009-13. Here’s the list, if you’re interested.
Anyway, the Indians are in town to help wrap-up this homestand. They’ve kinda been hanging around the wildcard race these last few weeks — the Yankees are a half-game back of the Royals for the second wildcard spot and the Indians are 3.5 games back of the Yankees — so this series is pretty important for both teams. Unlike last year, when it felt like the Yankees had no business playing meaningful games in the second half, this team is definitely good enough to get to the postseason. They still have a lot of work to do though. Don’t let up after that big series win over the Tigers. Here is the Indians lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- DH Carlos Beltran
- C Brian McCann
- 1B Chase Headley
- 2B Stephen Drew
- 3B Martin Prado
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
RHP Esmil Rogers
The weather in New York is pretty much perfect. Nice and sunny but not overwhelmingly hot or humid. Just a fantastic night for baseball. The game is scheduled to begin just after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.
Injury Updates: Mark Teixeira (finger) is still sore and can’t grip a bat. He did not take batting practice today and Joe Girardi labeled him as day-to-day … Masahiro Tanaka (elbow) felt good after playing catch from 60-90 feet today. He’ll stretch it out to 120 feet tomorrow then rest on Sunday.
From our friends at TiqIQ:
All season the New York Yankees have found a way to stay competitive. With the amount of injuries they have sustained, especially in the starting rotation, it would not have been surprising if they had one of the worst records in the league, but somehow they’ve remained above .500 all season. Currently they are second in the AL East with a 60-54 record, despite losing four of their five original starting pitchers to injuries. That’s especially shocking for a team that was realistically expected to struggle offensively. But there is one area the team hasn’t struggled, and that is with ticket sales for games at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees are always one of the most expensive tickets in the league, and the only team that has been close to them this year is the Boston Red Sox. For the remainder of the season the Yankees have an average ticket price on the secondary market of $131.43, while most teams fail to even come close to the $100 mark. The league average is about $80 but most teams are lower. That number would be a lot lower if it weren’t for the Yankees and Red Sox.
Part of the reason New York Yankees tickets are so expensive is because of Derek Jeter’s impending retirement, but some promotions have also led to the hefty price tags. The next home series for the Yankees is this weekend against the Cleveland Indians. The Indians are no slouch, but they are currently third in the AL Central and a game under .500 at 57-58. Still the cheapest game of the series is $113.03. The most expensive game of the series is $176.61, and it also happens to be a game in which Paul O’Neill will have a plaque dedicated in Monument Park on Saturday.
Similarly the most expensive game for a September series against the Toronto Blue Jays has a promotion. The series is a four-game set from the 18-21, with the game on the 21 the only one with a giveaway. The first 10,000 guests 14 and younger will receive a limited edition Yankees bear beanie baby with the number “2” stitched in to celebrate Jeter. Tickets for that game are averaging $145.57, while the first game of the series is just $91.62.
From August 22-24 they play a Chicago White Sox team that isn’t anywhere close to contention. One the 22nd tickets are averaging $100.54, and on the 24th tickets are just $95.31, but on the 23rd the average is $139.48. But there is a big event on that day, with the Yankees retiring Joe Torre’s No. 6. But that pales in comparison to the game on September 7 against the Kansas City Royals. Tickets are currently averaging $543.42, with a special Derek Jeter ceremony scheduled for the day.
Despite everything they’ve had to deal with, the Yankees still have a chance at the postseason berth. But that’s just part of the reason Yankees tickets have been among the most expensive in the league this year. One of the big reasons seems to be all the promotions the team is having, especially those centered around their most popular players.
As expected, the Yankees have called up right-hander Bryan Mitchell from Triple-A Scranton. He was scheduled to start for the RailRiders last night, so he’s good for plenty of innings behind spot starter Esmil Rogers if need be tonight. Hopefully not.
Righty Matt Daley was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot for Mitchell. I’m pretty sure Daley is just going through revocable options waivers — which he’s already done on two occasions this season — and not actually being removed from the 40-man roster. He made his MLB debut more than three years ago and this is the process the team needs to go through to send him back to the minors. Whatever. · (90) ·
One AL Central opponent leaves town and another comes in. The Indians are in the Bronx for a three-game series this weekend. They split a four-game set with the Yankees in Cleveland last month.
What Have They Done Lately?
The Indians just lost three straight to the Reds but they had won four straight before that. They are 9-11 since the All-Star break and 57-58 with a +7 run differential overall this year, good for third place in the AL Central. They are 3.5 games back of the Yankees (and Mariners and Blue Jays) in the wildcard race, so this series is not nothing.
Cleveland quietly has one of the best offenses in the game, one that averages 4.43 runs per game with a team 104 wRC+. They are currently without OF Michael Bourn (97 wRC+) and DH Jason Giambi (26 wRC+) due to hamstring and knee injuries, respectively. Bourn just started a rehab assignment and is unlikely to return this weekend. Giambi is out long-term and there’s a decent chance he’s played his last MLB game. I’ll miss Big G.
Manager Terry Francona’s lineup is built around OF Michael Brantley (151 wRC+), who has emerged as one of the best two-way players in baseball. He’s excellent. 1B Carlos Santana (131 wRC+) has been tearing the cover off the ball for two months after a terrible start while 3B Lonnie Chisenhall (135 wRC+) is going the other way — he started out hot and has slowed down big time of late. C Yan Gomes (127 wRC+) has established himself as one of the best hitting catchers in baseball these last two seasons.
2B Jason Kipnis (95 wRC+) and OF David Murphy (102 wRC+) have been just about average this year while ex-Yankee OF Nick Swisher (73 wRC+) has been awful. IF Jose Ramirez (21 wRC+ in very limited time) has taken over at short since Asdrubal Cabrera was traded away. UTIL Ryan Raburn (52 wRC+) and ex-Yankee OF Chris Dickerson (122 wRC+ in limited time) see platoon duty while IF Mike Aviles (71 wRC+) and C Roberto Perez (87 wRC+ in very limited time) fill out the bench.
Friday: RHP Esmil Rogers (vs. CLE) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (vs. NYY)
Bauer, 23, has finally found some success at the MLB level after years of tinkering and having coaches try to “fix” his unique mechanics and workout routines. He has a 4.20 ERA (3.99 FIP) in 16 starts and 92.1 innings with a good strikeout rate (8.31 K/9 and 21.3%) and an okay walk rate (3.27 K/9 and 8.4 K%). Righties (.346 wOBA) have hit him harder than lefties (.325 wOBA) and he’s been worst on the road (.351 wOBA) than at home (.326 wOBA). Bauer is an extreme fly ball pitcher (32.4% grounders) who gives up homers (1.03 HR/9 and 8.3 HR/FB%), but that is by design — he’s said he likes pitching up in the zone because fly balls are higher percentage outs than ground balls, and he’ll live with the homers as a byproduct. He is definitely in the minority when it comes to that approach. Bauer throws a mid-to-high-90s fastball, a mid-to-upper-80s cutter, a mid-80s changeup, a low-80s slider, and an upper-70s curveball. He throws all five pitches regularly with the slider and curve being his go-to offspeed pitches. New York scored three runs (two earned) in seven innings against him last month.
Saturday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (vs. CLE) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (vs. NYY)
The Yankees lucked out and did not face the Klubot during their four-game series in Cleveland a few weeks. That aren’t getting that lucky twice. The 28-year-old Kluber has a 2.55 ERA (2.49 FIP) in 24 starts and 165.2 innings this year, and his peripherals are excellent across the board: 9.62 K/9 (26.7 K%), 1.90 BB/9 (5.3 BB%), 0.54 HR/9 (7.4 HR/FB%), and 49.2% grounders. Lefties (.309 wOBA) have had much more success against him than righties (.236 wOBA). Kluber is primarily a three-pitch pitcher with a low-to-mid-90s sinker, a hard upper-80s slider, and power low-80s curveball. Both breaking balls are legit out pitches. He’ll also throw a handful of mid-80s changeups per start, but it is his clear fourth pitch. Kluber is not a big name, but the guy has pitched like an ace this year. He’s outstanding.
Sunday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. CLE) vs. RHP Carlos Carrasco (vs. NYY)
The Tribe have had a revolving door at the back of their rotation all year. Carrasco, 27, is coming out of the bullpen to make this start after spending most of the season as a long reliever. He has a 3.88 ERA (3.20 FIP) in 26 relief appearances and four spot starts in 2014, and across the board he has very good strikeout (8.58 K/9 and 23.2 K%), walk (2.49 BB/9 and 6.7 BB%), homer (0.69 HR/9 and 9.4 HR/FB%), and ground ball (56.4%) numbers. Lefties (.309 wOBA) have been more successful against him than righties (.269 wOBA). Obviously his numbers in relief will not translate perfectly over into a starting role. Carrasco sits in the mid-90s with his four-seamer when he comes out of the bullpen, and he uses it to set up his upper-80s changeup, mid-80s slider, and low-80s curveball. He throws all three secondary pitches at least 11% of the time, so he’s a true four-pitch pitcher. Carrasco made two relief appearances against the Yankees last month, three scoreless innings in one and one scoreless inning in the other.
Francona is currently on his third different closer in RHP Cody Allen (2.44 FIP). RHP John Axford (4.23 FIP) lost the job early in the season and RHP Bryan Shaw (3.45 FIP) only had it for about a week. Those two plus RHP Scott Atchison (3.32 FIP) serve as Allen’s primary setup men. Like the Yankees, the Indians are carrying eight relievers at the moment.
The rest of the Tribe bullpen includes LHP Marc Rzepczynski (2.93 FIP), LHP Kyle Crockett (3.28 FIP), LHP Nick Hagadone (3.36 FIP), and RHP C.C. Lee (3.96 FIP). Yes, the Indians have a dude named C.C. Lee in their bullpen. It’s like the ghost of Cy Young winners past has come back to haunt them. Lee threw two innings yesterday but the rest of the bullpen had the day off. Check up on the Yankees’ bullpen at our Bullpen Workload page. Once you’ve done that, head over to Wahoo’s on First for everything you need to know about the Indians.