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Yankees honor Willie Randolph and Mel Stottlemyre with plaques and a 14-3 win over the Tigers

The day started with a wonderful celebration of Willie Randolph’s career and the usual Old Timers’ Day fun, not to mention a surprise Monument Park plaque for Mel Stottlemyre, and it ended with a blowout 14-3 win over the Tigers. Pretty awesome day all around. The Yankees have won four straight and are now 20-11 with a +46 run differential at Yankee Stadium in 2015. Home sweet home.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
.274/.314/.432 over the last month. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Simon Says: Score Runs
Games like this are the toughest to recap because I don’t even know where to start. We all know what happened. The Yankees scored a ton of runs and they did it in every way possible. With singles, with homers, with sac flies … even with a hit-by-pitch. Six different Yankees drove in a run and eight different Yankees scored a run. The end result: 14 runs on a season-high 18 hits. They also drew six walks and struck out just five times. Pretty great game. Here are some points I want to highlight:

(1) Brett Gardner hit for the cycle. Well, sorta. He hit for the cycle in four at-bats spanning Friday to Saturday. Gardner homered in his last at-bat Friday, then on Saturday he tripled in his first-bat, doubled in his second at-bat, and singled in his third at-bat. That’s a cycle in four at-bats across two games. Doesn’t count in the record books but it’s still pretty cool. Gardner went 3-for-6 in the game overall. He is 10-for-20 on the homestand. Scorching hot.

(2) Carlos Beltran hit two home runs and they couldn’t have been any more different. The first was a moonshot he pulled over the home bullpen and into the right field bleachers as a left-handed batter. The second was an opposite field Yankee Stadium cheapie he reached out and poked to right field as a right-handed batter. It was the 12th time Beltran homered from both sides of the plate in one game in his career. That’s one shy of the all-time record held by … wait for itMark Teixeira and Nick Swisher. How about that?

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

(3) The biggest at-bat of the game was Alex Rodriguez‘s three-run home run in the third inning, I think. At least that was the biggest at-bat in hindsight. The Yankees worked Alfredo Simon really hard — he threw 85 pitches to get eight outs — and they had five runs on the board already, but A-Rod‘s monster homer off Ian Krol turned this one into a true laugher. Five runs is a nice lead. Eight runs? That feels like game over. And it was a bomb too. A-Rod crushed the ball deep into the left field seats. Zero doubter. He drove in five runs in the game.

(4) The two-run fourth inning rally was the stupidest rally ever. Not one, but two check swing bloops fell in for base hits. Didi Gregorius, who homered earlier in the game, tried to check his swing, made contact, and the ball fell in. Chris Young did almost the exact same thing two batters later. In between, Stephen Drew hit a weak grounder to short and Gregorius managed to beat the flip to second. It was scored a hit for whatever reason. (Fielder’s choice, no?) It was that kind of night. Everything went right, even the check swings.

(5) The top and bottom of the order did a lot of damage. The top three hitters went a combined 7-for-13 (.538) while the bottom three hitters went 6-for-14 (.429). The middle of the lineup did well too (3-for-10) but the top and bottom really stood out. The Yankees scored in each of the first five innings and went 4-for-13 (.308) with runners in scoring position. (I thought the RISP numbers would be better than that.) Utility infielder Josh Wilson pitched the eighth inning for Detroit — Young took him deep — and he forgot to cover first base on a ground ball, giving Brendan Ryan an infield single. The Yankees could do no wrong offensively.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Nasty Nate
Obviously the offense is the story of the game, but it shouldn’t be overlooked that Nathan Eovaldi rebounded from his disaster start earlier this week to hold the Tigers to two runs in six innings, and he wasn’t even on the mound for the two runs. (Bryan Mitchell allowed a pair of inherited runners to score.) Eovaldi struck out four and held Detroit to two base-runners in the first five innings. They didn’t have a runner reach second base until Rajai Davis’ leadoff double in the seventh. I’m sure all the offense made life easy. Still nice to see Eovaldi rebound so well.

Mitchell made his season debut and wasn’t great, though it doesn’t really matter. In addition to the two inherited runners he allowed to score, Mitchell surrendered one run of his own on four hits in three innings. He gets a save for throwing the final three innings in the blowout. This was the definition of mop-up duty for Mitchell. Throw strikes and get the game over with. It was nice to see the regular late-inning relievers get a second straight day off. The Yankees needed a laugher like this for more reason than one.

Leftovers
Kinda covered everything already, right? Here are all the Old Timers’ Day videos if you missed any of it. Also make sure you check out the Mel Stottlemyre plaque surprise if you haven’t. What a tremendous moment.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights, and here are the updated standings. The AL East is so tight, geez. Also check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Now here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Tigers will wrap up this three-game series on Sunday afternoon. Masahiro Tanaka and Anibal Sanchez will be on the bump. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to catch that game or any of the other upcoming home games live and in person.

Big Mike fans 16, Yankees take series finale from O’s 6-2


Source: FanGraphs

Gosh, what a game. And of course I missed it. Well, missed most of it. I was around for the first inning, inning and a half before I had to head out for some family time on Mother’s Day. Just my luck, right? The Yankees won for the 17th time in their last 23 games on Sunday, beating the Orioles 6-2 in the series finale. Let’s recap this one with an annotated box score.

Yankees Orioles annotated box scoe

(1) Sixteen strikeouts! I don’t want to spoil too much of tomorrow’s Yankeemetrics post, but Michael Pineda tied David Cone for the most strikeouts by a right-handed pitcher in a single game in franchise history. (Cone struck out 16 in June 1997.) Ron Guidry of course holds the franchise record with 18 strikeouts. Here is Big Mike‘s 16th strikeout:

I can’t remember the last time there was that much energy in Yankee Stadium for a non-legacy player farewell game. Pineda has kinda sorta been the staff ace since Masahiro Tanaka got hurt last year, but he confirmed it with authority on Sunday. He’s the ace. Sixteen strikeouts, no walks, one run in seven innings on a solo homer. Total domination. Pineda has 54 strikeouts and three walks in 46.1 innings this year. That’s a 29.5 K% and a 1.6 BB%, with a 53.2% ground ball rate to boot. Have mercy, Big Mike.

(Aside: Dan Barbarisi says Pineda calls strikeouts “strike ’em outs,” and I think we should all call them that from now on.)

(2) Carlos Beltran hit a home run! It’s his first dinger in 176 plate appearances, dating back to August 23rd of last season. It was a bit of a meatball, a hanging 85 mph slider, but that’s fine. It’s a pitch the hitter is supposed to crush and earlier this year Beltran wasn’t doing much with pitches like that. Carlos is 10-for-32 (.313) with four doubles, the homer, two walks, and two strike ’em outs in May. It’s no secret the Yankees rely heavily on the top of the order for offense. If they can start getting some production from Beltran in the sixth spot, man that would be a big help.

(3) I watched the video of Didi Gregorius‘ seventh inning double and I like the aggressiveness there. It took a perfect set of relay throws to get him at third base. That said, the run is the priority there. Stephen Drew broke it down too soon, and once the throw gets to the infield and it’s clear he’s not going to make it to third, Didi has to stop and get in a rundown so Drew could score. I don’t mind going for the triple there — that ball could have taken any sort of weird bounce off the wall, it just happened to bounce right to the cannon-armed Adam Jones — but the run has to score. Priority number one. Thankfully it didn’t come back to bite them.

(4) That was an incredibly dumb attempted steal of third base by Brett Gardner in the first inning. We went through this exact same situation with Gregorius in the first series of the year. Two outs, runners on base, power hitter at the plate … what’s the point of going there? Just let the hitter hit. Bud Norris has been pretty crappy this year and Brian McCann had a 2-0 count. A 2-0 count! Geez, Brett. Just let the man hit next time. Norris seemed very willing to work himself into trouble there and Gardner let him off the hook.

(5) The Yankees went 3-for-8 (.375) with three doubles and two walks (.500 OBP) with runners in scoring position on the afternoon. That’s really good. During this stellar 17-6 stretch, New York is hitting .243/.348/.439 with runners in scoring position. The AL average is .261/.345/.414 this year and the Yankees hit .254/.331/.372 in those spots from 2013-14. The batting average is a little low, but the on-base and slugging numbers are way, way better the last two seasons. Big time improvement from the Yankees in this area, hence the increase in scoring.

(6) At some point a number three reliever behind Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller is going to have to emerge. For a while it was Chris Martin, and lately it’s been Justin Wilson, but that spot is still undecided. That’s the role Adam Warren filled behind Betances and David Robertson last year. A five-run lead with six outs to go is a spot where Betances shouldn’t be needed for five outs, even if he threw only 23 pitches. Maybe Wilson can take that role and run with it these next few days. Maybe Jacob Lindgren can assume that role later in the year. For now, the Yankees don’t have that obvious number three option behind Dellin and Miller. Those two need to be able to sit games like this one out.

* * *

Here are the box score, the video highlights, and the updated standings. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees are now off to start a nine-game, eleven-day road trip. CC Sabathia will open a four-game series in Tampa on Monday night. Righty Alex Colome will be on the bump for the Rays.

Prospect Profile: Tyler Wade

(MiLB.com)
(MiLB.com)

Tyler Wade | SS

Background
Wade is a Southern California kid from Murrieta, roughly halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. He played baseball at Murrieta Valley High School and was a pop-up guy, meaning he didn’t jump onto the radar as a draft prospect until the spring of his draft year. (Wade hit .524 as a senior after hitting .328 as a sophomore and junior.)

Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked Wade as the 34th best prospect in California and the 169th best prospect overall for the 2013 draft. The Yankees selected him in the fourth round with the 134th overall pick. Wade signed about a week later for $371,300, exactly slot money for his draft spot.

Pro Career
Wade was assigned to one of the team’s two rookie level Gulf Coast League affiliates after signing and he had an excellent pro debut, hitting .309/.429/.370 (146 wRC+) with a 16.2% walk rate, a 21.2% strikeout rate, and 11 steals in 12 attempts in 46 games. He played so well the Yankees bumped him up to Short Season Staten Island for a few games at the end of the GCL season. Wade went 1-for-13 (.077) in four games with Staten Island.

The Yankees aggressively assigned Wade to Low-A Charleston to start the 2014 season, where he was slated to split time at shortstop, second base, and DH with Gosuke Katoh and Abi Avelino. Avelino suffered a quad injury a month into the season and that pushed Wade into regular shortstop duty. He handled the workload well, hitting .272/.350/.349 (100 wRC+) with a 9.9% walk rate, a 20.5% strikeout rate, and 22 steals in 35 attempts during his age 19 season.

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 180 lbs., Wade is a true shortstop with good athleticism, quick feet, and sure hands. His weakest defensive tool is his arm, which is juuust strong enough for short. Wade has a quick and compact left-handed swing that sprays line drives all over the field, and he knows the strike zone well. Here’s some video (there’s more at MiLB.com):

Wade is a pure slash hitter with zero power. He hit one homer total in his last three years of high school and has one homer in 179 games as a pro. Power’s not his game. Even if he packs on some muscle as he matures, Wade is expected to be a single digit home run guy who hits near the bottom of the order with okay batting averages and respectable on-base percentages. His speed is good, but, as going 22-for-35 (63%) in stolen base attempts last year suggests, he needs to improve his base-running instincts and pick his spots better. Wade’s a classic scrappy middle infield type. Prepare for the inevitable David Eckstein comparisons.

2015 Outlook
After a strong full season debut with the River Dogs, Wade will move up to High-A Tampa for the 2015 season and again serve as the everyday shortstop. He just turned 20 in November and there’s no reason to think he’ll get a midseason promotion to Double-A Trenton, even if he breaks out and has a huge year. Wade’s a one level at a time guy and there’s nothing wrong with that.

My Take
I like Wade, he’s been a pleasant surprise despite being a relatively high draft pick. Most pop-up guys never amount to anything — they usually just have the best few weeks of their lives at exactly the right time — but Wade has the athleticism for shortstop and isn’t a zero at the plate. There’s always a chance upper level pitchers will knock the bat right out of his hands, but I think there’s a good chance he’ll get stronger as he fills out and turn into a doubles machine. The Yankees have a surprising amount of quality shortstop prospects in the low minors and Wade is the highest on the minor league ladder.

Prospect Profile: Miguel Andujar

(Charleston River Dogs)
(Charleston River Dogs)

Miguel Andujar | 3B

Background
Considered one of the top players available during the 2011-12 international signing period, the Yankees signed Andujar as a 16-year-old out of San Cristobal, Dominican Republic in July 2011. He received a $750,000 bonus. It was the second largest bonus they gave out during the signing period, behind only the $2.5M (originally $4M) they gave Cuban lefty Omar Luis.

Pro Career
The Yankees were very aggressive with Andujar. They skipped him right over the Dominican Summer League and had him make his pro debut in the rookie level Gulf Coast League as a 17-year-old in 2012. Andujar predictably struggled, hitting .232/.288/.299 (80 wRC+) with one homer in 50 games. The Yankees sent him back to the GCL in 2013 and Andujar was much better the second time around, putting up a .323/.368/.496 (152 wRC+) line with four homers in 34 games.

Last season, the Yankees bumped Andujar up to Low-A Charleston, where he played the entire season at 19. He started out very slow, hitting .212/.267/.335 (67 wRC+) with ten doubles, five homers, 16 walks, and 46 strikeouts in his first 63 games. The second half was much better — Andujar put up a .319/.367/.456 (129 wRC+) line with 15 doubles, five homers, 19 walks, and 37 strikeouts in his final 64 games. The end result was a .267/.318/.397 (99 wRC+) batting line with 25 doubles, ten homers, a 15.7% strikeout rate, and a 6.6% walk rate in 127 games.

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-0 and 175 lbs., Andujar is a right-handed hitter with good bat speed and above-average power potential. He’s aggressive but not a hacker — Andujar can wait back on breaking balls but doesn’t hesitate to punish a fastball in the zone. It’s more of a low walk, low strikeout offensive profile than a low walk, high strikeout profile. Here’s some video (there’s more at MiLB.com):

Andujar is a good athlete whose best defensive tool is his arm, which is plenty strong for third base. His footwork needs to improve and he needs to add experience at the hot corner in general. Andujar’s worst tool is his speed. He’s not someone who adds much value on the bases, not now and not in the future either.

Like just about all 19-year-olds, Andujar is more potential than “now” skills. He projects to hit for average, hit for some power, and play a strong third base, but getting from here to there is going to take a lot of time and work.

2015 Outlook
Andujar will jump to High-A Tampa this coming season after his strong finish with the River Dogs last year. He’s going to be very young for the level — Andujar was the tenth youngest player on a Low-A South Atlantic League Opening Day roster last year — and I expect him to stay in Tampa all season. There’s no reason to fast track him whatsoever.

My Take
I really like Andujar, especially because he’s struggled initially at each level and shown the ability to adjust and improve. It happened with the GCL Yanks (across 2012-13) and again with Low-A Charleston (in 2014). Andujar has jumped over 2013 first rounder Eric Jagielo as the best third base prospect in the system in my opinion, and he has some of the best pure upside among the team’s prospects as well. The Yankees haven’t had much success developing raw young prospects into big leaguers these last few years, and I really hope Andujar is the exception.

Thoughts following the Martin Prado/Nathan Eovaldi trade

(Mike Ehrmann/Getty)
(Mike Ehrmann/Getty)

The Yankees made perhaps their most significant move of the offseason yesterday, at least the most significant in terms of the number of players involved. I think you could argue the Didi Gregorius trade was their most significant move of the winter because getting a new young starting shortstop is kind of a big deal. Anyway, I have some thoughts about the big Martin Prado/Nathan Eovaldi (plus other stuff) trade, so let’s get to it.

1. Eovaldi will be a nice little project for pitching coach Larry Rothschild and pitching coordinator Gil Patterson. He’s got a big arm — he had the fourth fastest average fastball among qualified starters this past season at 95.5 mph — but so far the results haven’t matched the stuff. Both his fastball and slider generate only an average number of swings and misses and a slightly better than average number of grounders. Eovaldi’s curveball is the same way but he throws it less than 10% of the time. His changeup flat out stinks — opponents have a .200+ ISO against the pitch in his career — so much so that the best might simply be shelving the pitch entirely and emphasizing the curveball more. That can work — as Eno Sarris explained, Garrett Richards had a similar profile and he became an ace partly because he stopped throwing his worst pitch (the changeup) — as long as the fastball, slider, and curveball show some improvement, especially when it comes to missing bats. Perhaps Rothschild and Patterson will help him Eovaldi develop a cutter and that can serve as his fourth pitch, but, until then, getting better results from his already very good stuff will be the priority. How can they do that? Beats me. That’s why they’re the coaches and I’m the dumb blogger.

2. Eovaldi’s struggles against left-handed batters are very real and they make me nervous with his move into Yankee Stadium. Lefties hit .293/.330/.438 (.336 wOBA) against him last season and .288/.350/.421 (.338 wOBA) against him in his career. (Brett Gardner led Yankees’ regulars with a .331 wOBA in 2014, by the way. /sobs) Yankee Stadium is a great place to hit if you’re a left-handed hitter and unless Eovaldi can figure out a better way to attack them — cutter? more curveballs? somehow improving the changeup? — he could wind up a 30+ homer starter in the Bronx. Yes, his career homer rate is very good (0.65 HR/9 and 6.9 HR/FB%), though he’s spent his career in two big pitcher’s parks in the non-DH league. I think there’s some Phil Hughes-level gopher ball-itis potential here if Eovaldi can’t figure out a way to handle batters of the opposite hand, in which case his FIP (3.37 in 2014) will begin to approach his ERA (4.37) rather than the other way around. Rothschild and Patterson have their work cut out for them. The Marlins are legitimate excellent at developing pitchers. There might be a reason they were so willing to trade Eovaldi, and it could be his inability to consistently retire lefties.

3. On the bright side, Eovaldi is really young. He’ll turn 25 in February. He’s a year younger than Shane Greene. We’re not talking about a 27 or 28-year-old guy who needs to improve to reach his potential. Eovaldi’s still a kid and theoretically on the upswing of his career. The Yankees don’t have many guys like that on the roster. He’s already shown he’s a capable Major League starter and that’s (more than?) half the battle. Now he has to learn the nuances of pitching through experience and coaching. That’s something veterans like CC Sabathia and Chris Capuano can help with as well. Just look through Eovaldi’s video archive and you can see the potential. It’s exciting. The kid’s got a great arm and learning how to get more swings and misses — something Rothschild has a history of doing with his pitchers, mostly by emphasizing breaking balls — and combat lefties is a lot easier to do when you sit 95+ with a big breaking slider.

4. The Yankees traded reliability for upside with this deal. We know what Prado and David Phelps are at this point of their careers, and that’s a slightly better than average infielder and a swingman. I still think calling Phelps a back-of-the-rotation starter is pretty generous because he’s made only 40 starts across three MLB seasons and has had elbow problems in each of the last two second halves. That’s not to say Phelps is bad, he’s certainly a useful pitcher, but he’s three years older than Eovaldi and can be easily replaced. Bryan Mitchell, Jose DePaula, or even Manny Banuelos could fill his role next season. The Yankees shouldn’t and probably didn’t think twice about trading a guy like Phelps, especially now that he’s getting expensive through arbitration as a Super Two. This trade is all about upside for New York, both with Eovaldi and righty Domingo German. German’s essentially this trade’s Jose Campos, the Single-A guy with a big arm and promise. He’s a lottery ticket, Brian Cashman said as much in yesterday’s conference call, and the Yankees could use a lottery ticket arm like this in their position player-heavy farm system. Cashman traded the reliability of Prado and Phelps for the pure upside and impact potential of Eovaldi and German. It’s risky, but boy is it fun.

(Scott Cunningham/Getty)
(Scott Cunningham/Getty)

5. Garrett Jones is more or less a throw-in in my opinion. He’s a nice bench piece who fits the roster very well — he plays first base (Mark Teixeira is always hurt), right field (Carlos Beltran is always hurt), and can also slot in at DH (Alex Rodriguez is always hurt). I don’t consider him any kind of difference maker or core piece though. Eovaldi and German are the centerpieces, Jones the throw-in. Hopefully he hits a bunch of dingers over the short porch and does for the Yankees what Mike Carp did for the 2013 Red Sox, specifically mash in a limited role. The Yankees have been trying to get Jones for years — they first asked about him in A.J. Burnett trade talks with the Pirates four offseason ago — so I’m not surprised he was included in the trade. He’s a nice fit for the roster and bench. No need to make it anything more than that.

6. Aside from a potential reunion with Hiroki Kuroda and miscellaneous depth additions, I think the Yankees are done with their pitching this offseason. In fact, they could probably use another bat right now more than anything. Rob Refsnyder‘s really great, though as I said after the Chase Headley re-signing, I hate handing jobs to non-elite prospects. Prado was a great fit because he’s a solid right-handed hitter and versatile, so there were a ton of ways to keep him in the lineup. I don’t think the Yankees will pursue someone like Asdrubal Cabrera or Stephen Drew to play second, but, if they do, that same kind of flexibility isn’t there. I have no doubt Refsnyder will get a chance at some point next season. I just really hope the Yankees aren’t planning to hand him the second base job unchallenged in Spring Training. A Gregorius-Refsnyder double play combination makes me really nervous.

7. I mentioned this in my last thoughts post, but boy there have been a lot of big leaguer for big leaguer trades lately. The Yankees made one earlier this offseason with the Gregorius-Greene swap, and the Prado/Eovaldi trade is another one. The Yankees got younger with both trades and filled some rather critical areas of need. They also managed to save some money too. I do believe the Yankees got better with the two trades with the caveat that we have to see how they plan to proceed at second base. Prado isn’t a franchise savior or anything like that, but he’s a solid player who was slated to fill an important position. This is more or less the Yankees’ version of rebuilding — they’re never going to tear it all down and frankly I’m very happy that’s the case. I am very much anti-sucking on purpose. Rather than tear it down, they’re making smaller moves to get younger and specific spots. Last offseason the rebuilding piece was 25-year-old Masahiro Tanaka, and this year it’s Gregorius, Eovaldi, and replacing Frankie Cervelli with presumably John Ryan Murphy behind the plate. Soon it’ll be time for Refsnyder, Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, and other homegrown guys to be phased onto the roster.

Sunday Night Open Thread

For whatever reason the folks at MLBAM decided to chop this afternoon’s Derek Jeter retirement ceremony into eight (!) different videos, and I’m not embedding all of them here. That’s too many. Jeter’s predictably perfect speech is above (full text) and you can see all the ceremony videos right here. (Andy Pettitte was not in town because of a prior family engagement.) The Yankees pulled out all the stops, even bringing in astronauts and Michael Jordan. Astronauts! I didn’t hear it myself, but apparently one of the broadcast microphones picked up Jordan saying “I heard you’re getting married?” to Jeter, so that’s a thing. Leave it to Jeter to keep an engagement secret. Anyway, the ceremony was way cool. What a great afternoon.

Here is your open thread for the rest of the night. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is a good one, the Giants at the Tigers (Hudson vs. Lobstein). The late NFL game is the Colts and Broncos. Hooray football. Talk about those games, the Jeter ceremony, this afternoon’s loss, or anything else right here.

Sunday Night Open Thread

Here is your open thread for the final few hours of the weekend. All of the video from Old Timers’ Day this afternoon is right here. Team USA is playing in the World Cup right now (on ESPN), and following that the Rangers and Angels will be the ESPN Sunday Night Game (Darvish vs. Shoemaker). Talk about those games, Old Timers’ Day, this afternoon’s loss, or anything else right here.