Angels’ front office dysfunction and possible implications for the Yankees

Dipoto vs. Scioscia. Dipoto wins. (Presswire)
Dipoto vs. Scioscia. Dipoto wins. (Presswire)

The Angels have won four straight games, including the last two against the Yankees, yet the team is mired in dysfunction at the moment. According to multiple reports, GM Jerry Dipoto either resigned or was fired yesterday following an ongoing power struggle with manager Mike Scioscia. Ken Rosenthal detailed their problems earlier this week. It’s unclear what exactly happened. Dipoto is apparently out of the picture, however.

The friction between Dipoto and Scioscia has been going on for several years now. It appeared things were coming to a head back in 2013, but they were able to smooth things over, and those 98 wins last year helped keep everyone happy. This year, the Halos are falling short of expectations (41-37 with a +0 run differential) and their offense has struggled (3.87 runs per game), so the Dipoto-Scioscia feud rekindled.

I’m not surprised Dipoto lost the latest battle and the war — Scioscia is an iconic manager and it just doesn’t seem like he will lose any sort of power struggle at this point. Someone else in the front office will presumably take over as interim GM and the Halos will begin a search for a permanent GM. It’s an ugly situation with implications leading up to the trade deadline, implications that could affect the Yankees in more ways than one.

The Angels are going to replace Dipoto with a newbie GM, at least initially, and the new GM will inevitably look to impress his bosses. It’s human nature. Got a new job? Work hard to show your new bosses they hired the right person. I think the likelihood of the Halos being ultra-aggressive at the trade deadline just went up, which means more competition for the Yankees. The Angels were going to look for upgrades anyway. Not they might be looking for those upgrades with a crazy new GM willing to pay big.

Reportedly, Dipoto was seeking a veteran middle of the order bat in recent weeks, specifically in left field or at DH. (Turns out they could have used Josh Hamilton, huh?) The Yankees don’t need a player like that but they do have one to offer! At least in theory. Carlos Beltran would be a fit for that role with the Halos and it would allow the Yankees to clear an outfield spot for a younger player like Mason Williams or Ramon Flores or Aaron Judge. Win-win!

Except it won’t happen. Probably not. Beltran has a full no-trade clause and has wanted to wear pinstripes for years and years. I doubt he’d accept a trade to a team far away from home and in a worse position to contend than the Yankees. (The Yankees and Angels are both a half-game back of a wildcard spot, but the AL East is way more winnable than the AL West right now.) Still, it’s a thought that crossed my mind, and I guess there’s a chance the front office situation in Anaheim could impact things.

The Angels are also looking for pitching depth (who isn’t?) and, like Beltran, the Yankees are at the point where they’re probably better off paying CC Sabathia to pitch elsewhere, a la A.J. Burnett. Sabathia has ten-and-five no-trade protection but maybe the Yankees could sell him on the idea of moving to a bigger ballpark in a division with several other big ballparks at this point of his career. Plus Sabathia would be going home to California. (Not really though, he’s from Northern California. It’s like saying playing for the Braves is a homecoming for someone from North Carolina.)

Angels owner Arte Moreno has a history of doing wacky things (the Hamilton and Albert Pujols contracts!), so it’s easy to dream about the Yankees getting a “get out of jail free” card with Beltran and Sabathia. Even if the Yankees were willing to eat money  — how about eating, say, $30M of the guaranteed $64M or so still owed to Beltran or Sabathia? — and take less than interesting prospects in return, the no-trade clauses are an obstacle. Moreno might be crazy and the new GM might want to impress — what better way is there to impress than by reeling in big names? — but file this under things that have maybe a 1% chance of happening. Maybe.

Dream about unloading Beltran and Sabathia if you want. In reality, the front office turmoil in Anaheim hurts the Yankees most at the trade deadline by adding a likely-to-be-aggressive bidder to the market. Both teams need pitching, so they’ll be in competition there, and the Angels could also go after Ben Zobrist to bolster their lineup. The Yankees could use Zobrist at second base, the Angels could use him in the outfield. There figures to be a little more competition at the trade deadline now, so the Dipoto-Scioscia feud may have made life more difficult for New York this summer.

Jagielo’s injury comes at a really bad time for the Yankees

Two weeks and one day ago, third base prospect Eric Jagielo slid into home plate and jammed his knee, forcing him to miss a few days. A few days turned into a DL stint, and, as we learned yesterday, Jagielo has “loose bodies” in his knee, which may require surgery. He’ll undergo more tests before deciding whether to go under the knife or attempt to rehab the issue. (I’m not sure how rehabbing “loose bodies” works, but I’m no doctor.)

The 23-year-old Jagielo was hitting .284/.347/.495 (141 wRC+) with nine homers in 58 games for Double-A Trenton before getting hurt. The Yankees’ first of three first round picks in 2013 has swatted 27 home runs in 150 games since the start of last season, so the production is matching the scouting reports that touted him as a left-handed power hitter. Jagielo isn’t much of a defender, he’s a bat first guy, and his bat has been delivering.

It’s unclear how long those “loose bodies” will keep Jagielo out, but I think it’s safe to say it will be several weeks if not several months regardless of whether he has surgery or goes through rehab. In fact, Double-A Trenton manager Al Pedrique told Nick Peruffo that Jagielo is “going to be out for awhile.” Hopefully he can get healthy in time to play the last few weeks of the regular season before making up for lost time in the Arizona Fall League.

Either way, surgery or no surgery, Jagielo will be out for a while, and his injury comes at a really bad time for the Yankees. (Obligatory: There is no such thing as a good time for an injury.) The trade deadline is just four weeks and one day away now, and Jagielo sure looked like one of the team’s best trade chips. A power prospect producing at Double-A in an age when offense is hard to come by? There figured to be plenty of interest in Jagielo despite his lack of a clear long-term position, especially since he’s a former first round pick. That pedigree has value.

The Yankees themselves will be able to use a young power-hitter in the near future, though, unlike Aaron Judge, Jagielo’s long-term fit with the Yankees is less clear. Judge will take over as the everyday right fielder once Carlos Beltran‘s contract is up. That’s the perfect world plan. Jagielo will … maybe play first base once Mark Teixeira‘s deal expires? Chase Headley is locked in at third base through 2018, and yeah I guess the Yankees could trade him to clear the position for a prospect, but Jagielo’s probably not going to stay at the hot corner long-term anyway.

A week or two ago we heard the Yankees have “sworn off” trading top prospects for rentals, which is something every team says at the trade deadline. The definition of “top prospect” is fluid though — you and I may consider someone like Jagielo a top prospect, but the Yankees may not, and vice versa. To me, Jagielo fits in that second tier of prospects, behind Judge and Luis Severino. The kind of prospect the Yankees should be willing to trade prior to the deadline to improve the MLB roster. The right rental player, as people like to say.

Now the Yankees won’t have that option. Jagielo’s injury takes him out of the trade chip equation — technically he can still be traded while hurt, but it’s not often injured prospects get traded these days aside from the occasional high-end pitcher rehabbing from Tommy John surgery — and gives the Yankees less ammunition leading up to the deadline. The injury is unfortunate for Jagielo’s development as a player and unfortunate for his trade value. The timing is real bad for the Yankees given their obvious needs on the mound and at second base.

Devil’s Advocate: The benefits of moving Adam Warren to the bullpen


The Yankees made it official prior to last night’s game, announcing Adam Warren has moved back into a bullpen role after the team used a six-man rotation for a week or so following Ivan Nova‘s return. “It’s a tough decision because he’s pitched so well but it’s what we need to do,” said Joe Girardi to reporters. Warren led the non-Nova starters with a 3.59 ERA (110 ERA+) at the time of his demotion, by the way.

The move is not at all surprising. The Yankees are unwilling to take the ineffective CC Sabathia out of the rotation — “That’s not something that we’re considering at this moment. We’re going to continue to give him every opportunity to work through this for the foreseeable future,” said Brian Cashman to Wally Matthews — and Warren has had success in a relief role before, so back to the bullpen he goes. It was an easy move and completely expected.

I don’t agree with the decision to move Warren into the bullpen for a few reasons, first and foremost because he’s still reasonably young (27) and I’d like to find out if he can be a long-term rotation fixture, not just a stopgap. The Yankees have been desperately waiting for a young starter to emerge basically since Nova debuted, and here they might have one. Now we won’t get to find out whether Warren can be a long-term part of the rotation.

Even though I don’t agree with the move, it’s time to play devil’s advocate and look at some reasons why Warren is better off in the bullpen, and why the Yankees are better with him in that role. There are two sides to every story. Time to look beyond the “Warren doesn’t deserve to lose his rotation spot” angle.

Workload Concerns

Might as well start here since this is the easiest. Warren has already thrown 85.1 innings this season, more than he threw last year (78.2) or the year before (77). Furthermore, Warren averages 3.93 pitches per plate appearance. That’s the tenth highest rate in baseball and well above the 3.80 P/PA average. Measuring Warren’s workload through his raw innings total is a little deceiving because his innings tend to be long innings, at least longer than league average.


Warren’s career high is 155 innings set back in 2012. He threw 155 innings that year and 152.1 innings the year before that, so pitching deep into the season won’t be a new experience for him. And Warren’s not some 21 or 22-year old prospect either, the Yankees can turn him loose more easily than they could someone like Luis Severino. That said, fatigue is always possible. You don’t run marathons at ages 23-24, scale back to jogging a few miles a week from ages 25-26, then jump right back into a marathon at age 27. I mean, you can try, but your body won’t like it.

Regardless of whether you agree with their tactics, the Yankees have shown they will do whatever they can to control workloads and keep their pitchers healthy. Warren is older, yeah, but he’s also under team control through 2018 and they have plenty of reasons to try to keep him healthy. He’s on pace for 175-ish innings this year and he might run into a wall at some point in the second half, and if he does, his chances of injury increase. Pitching leads to injuries in general. Pitching while fatigued is even more dangerous.

“My arm has felt great, but it’s only half the season,” said Warren to Chad Jennings. “I was talking to somebody about this last night; the inning issue is tough, because you usually don’t know how much is too much until it’s too late and you get hurt. I am glad that they’re looking after my health and trying to take care of me. That means a lot to me. But how do know how many innings you can throw? It’s hard to say.”

Regression Coming?

I’ve come to hate the word regression because it’s become a lazy substitute for actual analysis, but dammit, sometimes you actually have to use it, and this is one of those times. Warren has pitched very well overall this season (3.48 ERA and 4.10 FIP) and yet there are still some reasons to think he won’t continue to perform this well as the summer marches on. He’s a … dun dun dun … regression candidate.

Starting with the basics, Warren’s strikeout rate is not good at 16.1% (MLB average is 20.1%), and that’s especially true against lefties: Warren has struck out just 12.2% of the left-handed batters he’s faced this season. That’s really bad. Really, really bad. Warren’s walk (7.8%) and home run (0.84 HR/9 and 8.9 HR/FB%) rates are right in line with his career averages (8.1% and 0.90/10.1%), but his ground ball and fly ball rates are trending in the wrong direction:

Adam Warren GB FB LD 2013-15The green line is Warren’s ground ball rate and the blue line is his fly ball rate, so he’s been getting fewer grounders and more fly balls of late. Fly balls aren’t necessarily a bad thing, they go for hits less often than ground balls (but go for extra bases more often!), but Warren has also given up more hard contact as the season has progressed — he went from a 23.5% hard contact in April to 25.6% in June. So it’s not just more balls in the air, it’s more hard-hit balls in the air. Not good!

Assuming Warren’s performance will take a step back as his workload increases seems like a decent bet, I mean that happens to many pitchers each year, and the league will also get more looks at him as well. Both the Red Sox and Orioles have already seen Warren twice this year and had more success the second time, for example. (At the same time, the Rays and Tigers have seem him twice and Warren was more successful the second look, so who knows.) The general inability to miss bats and the increase in the number of hard-hit air balls are legitimate red flags however, especially as the workload grows.

Bullpen Upgrade

The Yankees didn’t send Warren to Triple-A. It’s not like they dropped him from the roster. They sent him to the bullpen, where he was quite effective the last two years in different roles. He had a 3.39 ERA (4.32 FIP) as the long man in 2013, which made him the Tom Seaver of long relievers. Last year Warren had a 2.97 ERA (2.89 FIP) in kind of a bullpen handyman role. He was a setup man, a multi-inning middle reliever, occasionally a long man, and heck, he even picked up three saves. Whatever Girardi needed, Warren did it.

Warren came out of the bullpen in a high-leverage spot last night, and he figures to take over as Girardi’s primary right-handed setup man until Andrew Miller returns from the DL. The Yankees have been looking for a righty reliever to do what Warren did last year, and now Warren will again fill that role. Chasen Shreve and Justin Wilson have been fine setup relievers. Add Warren to that mix and the bullpen has a little more balance and much more depth. Pair Warren with healthy Miller, and the Yankees might actually have that superbullpen they were dreaming about coming into 2015.

* * *

As I’ve said, I think the Yankees made a mistake by taking Warren out of the rotation, but what’s done is done. His workload going forward is definitely something to monitor, and there are some red flags in his contact rates and quality, so there are a few reasons to think his performance as a starter was going to get worse as the season progressed, not better (or even stayed the same). Plus he’ll be a huge asset in relief. The bullpen is definitely stronger now than it was without Warren. There are absolutely some benefits to the move even if the demotion is completely undeserved.

Yankees drop third straight, offense no-shows in 2-1 loss to Angels

Source: FanGraphs

The scoring struggles continue. The Yankees lost Tuesday night’s game to Angels 2-1 and they’ve now scored 15 runs in six games on the road trip. Nine of those runs came on Saturday. Close losses stink. Failing the capitalize on the Orioles, Blue Jays, and Rays going a combined 0-7 the last three days stinks even more. West Coast night games get bullet point recaps, so let’s get to it:

  • Bend, Eventually Break: We can break Ivan Nova‘s start into three parts. First, he wiggled in and out trouble in the first two innings (four hits and a walk). Next, he cruised from innings three through five (one single, one walk). Last, he got rocked in the sixth inning, allowing back-to-back homers (Albert Pujols, Erick Aybar) and a double to end his night. The end result was two runs on eight hits and two walks in 5.1 innings. He struck out seven. Nova looks exactly like a guy coming back from Tommy John surgery. Stuff is fine, command is spotty.
  • Two Hits: The Yankees were two-hit for the second time on the road trip. Heck, for the second time in the span of three games. Mark Teixeira hit a long solo home run in the second and Brett Gardner slapped a single up the middle later in the game. Teixeira and Chase Headley drew walks. There’s yer offense. The Yankees have scored no more than one run in each of their last three games. Last time they did that was July 2013. Last time before that was April 2005. Last time they scored one run or fewer in four straight games? August 1990.
  • Leftovers: Not a starter Adam Warren made his first appearance as a not a starter, allowing a hit and a walk in 2.2 scoreless innings. He struck out a pair and generally looked awesome … Carlos Beltran left the game with ribcage injury and may be headed to the DL … the bottom five spots in the lineup went a combined 0-for-14 and hit one ball out of the infield. The one was Brian McCann‘s fly out in the second, the first of those 14.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and Angels finish off this three-game series Thursday Wednesday evening — that’s a 7pm ET start. Afternoon game in California, night game in New York. Nathan Eovaldi and Matt Shoemaker will be the pitching matchup.

Update: Carlos Beltran exits game with ribcage injury

12:52am: Beltran left the game with a ribcage injury, Joe Girardi told reporters after the game. He’ll be re-evaluated tomorrow and there’s a chance he’ll have to be placed on the DL.

11:35pm: Carlos Beltran exited tonight’s game with some kind of injury. He hurt himself during an at-bat in the fifth inning — Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue came out to check on him — but stayed in to finish the at-bat before being removed between innings. It appeared Beltran pointed to his oblique, but I could be wrong.

Beltran, 38, came into Tuesday’s game hitting .263/.312/.433 (103 wRC+) overall, though he’s been much better of late, with a .302/.349/.500 (135 wRC+) batting line since May 1st. The Yankees are already without Jacoby Ellsbury (knee), Slade Heathcott (quad), and Mason Williams (shoulder), so they really can’t afford to lose another outfielder. Ramon Flores is the obvious call-up candidate if Beltran misses time.

The Yankees haven’t announced anything about Beltran’s injury yet, so stayed tuned for updates.

DotF: Aaron Judge and Austin Aune have huge games

Bad news: Matt Kardos says 3B Eric Jagielo has “loose bodies” in his knee. He hurt himself sliding into home plate a week or two ago. Jagielo will undergo more tests before deciding whether to have surgery or go the rehab route. Either way, it’s safe to assume he’ll be out for a while. Sucks.

Triple-A Scranton (12-8 loss to Lehigh Valley)

  • CF Aaron Judge: 4-4, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 BB — big day at the plate and he also threw a runner out at third … also, that’s his first pro game in center field, the position he played in college
  • RF Ramon Flores: 1-3, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K
  • DH Austin Romine: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K — having a really great year, might be enough to earn himself a spot on the 40-man roster come September so the Yankees don’t lose him for nothing as a minor league free agent after the season
  • RHP Joel De La Cruz: 3 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 4/1 GB/FB — 33 of 59 pitches were strikes (56%)
  • RHP Chris Martin: 1.2 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 23 of 49 pitches were strikes (47%) … not gonna earn a trip back to New York that way, Chris
  • RHP Branden Pinder: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 19 of 28 pitches were strikes (68%)

[Read more…]

Game 79: Runs Required


The Yankees are five games into this seven-game road trip and so far they’ve scored 14 total runs. Nine of the 14 came in one game. Six of the nine came in an inning and a third against Brett Oberholtzer. So when facing non-Oberholtzer pitchers, the Yankees have scored eight runs in 42.1 innings on the trip. That’s bad! If the offense was a pitcher it would be a Cy Young favorite.

Tonight the offense gets a crack at rookie left-hander Andrew Heaney, who was traded from the Marlins to the Dodgers to the Angels in the span of about five hours this offseason. Rookie starters have a 4.95 ERA against the Yankees this season, so that’s encouraging. It doesn’t mean they’ll hit Heaney, but it’s better than hearing rookie pitchers have a 1.95 ERA against the Yankees this season, I guess. Here is the Angels’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. LF Chris Young
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Carlos Beltran
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Ivan Nova

Believe it or not, it was raining in Anaheim earlier today, but the storms have cleared out and the sky is supposed to be clear for the game tonight. First pitch is scheduled for just after 10pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy, yo.

Injury Updates: Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) was scratched with “general fatigue” in his legs, Joe Girardi told reporters. He was scheduled to play center field in his second rehab game with High-A Tampa. Girardi is hopeful Ellsbury will play tomorrow.

Rotation Update: As expected, Adam Warren has been moved to the bullpen, Girardi confirmed. “It’s a tough decision because he’s pitched so well but it’s what we need to do,” said the skipper. This is both dumb and totally expected.