Assessing possible trade partners for Brett Gardner


Things have slowed down of late, but Brett Gardner has been a popular name on the trade rumor circuit this offseason. He’s one of the few Yankee veterans with positive trade value, so it’s not a surprise the team is at least listening to offers as they aim to get younger. The Mariners and Cubs both checked in, possibly the Indians as well.

“I think it’d be more likely that we keep them than move them,” said Brian Cashman to Bryan Hoch at the Winter Meetings, referring to Gardner and Andrew Miller. “I say that recognizing that if somebody wants to ring a bell that I’ve put out there, then that could happen as early as tomorrow. But if I’m predicting anything, I’d predict that they would be here, not somewhere else.”

It’s easy to say clubs looking for outfield help can simply turn to the free agent market, where quality players like Adam Gordon and Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton remain unsigned, but not every team can afford them. Gardner is owed $37.5M over the next three years. That might buy you a year and a half of Cespedes or Upton. Gardner also has the advantage of being a legitimate center fielder.

I don’t necessarily want the Yankees to move Gardner, but there are reasons to do so. There are still plenty of teams that need outfield help at this point of the offseason. Some teams are more realistic candidates than others — for example, no rebuilding club wants Gardner, so it’s contenders only — especially if the Yankees stick to their demand of a young starter under control beyond 2017. Let’s run down the possible suitors.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Outfielders? A.J. Pollock, David Peralta, Yasmany Tomas.
Young Starters? Robbie Ray and Chase Anderson. I assume Archie Bradley is off-limits.
Cash? Lots, apparently. Their massive new television deal just kicked in, as Zack Greinke found out.

The D’Backs had enough outfield depth to include Ender Inciarte in the Shelby Miller trade, and it stands to reason they’re committed to Tomas after giving him $68.5M last offseason. If so, they’re not a fit for Gardner. Pollock and Peralta aren’t going anywhere. They’re way too good. Arizona may have a young starter to spare and chances are they can afford Gardner, but the outfield is currently too crowded. A Fit? No.

Baltimore Orioles
Outfielders? Adam Jones, Hyun-Soo Kim, and, uh, Nolan Reimold? Egads.
Young Starters? Outside of Kevin Gausman, no one worthwhile.
Cash? Yeah. They just offered Chris Davis $150M or so.

Man, is Gardner not a perfect fit for the O’s? He gives them a solid left fielder and leadoff hitter, allowing them to put Manny Machado in the middle of the lineup. Gardner’s also affordable, he knows the ballpark, knows the division, and his lefty bat would help balance their righty heavy lineup. It’s such a great fit.

Of course, Orioles owner Peter Angelos would sooner play with a 24-man roster than make a significant trade with the Yankees. He had a contentious relationship with George Steinbrenner and he still holds the grudge to this day. Never say never, but it’s hard to see Angelos signing off on a significant trade with New York. That they lack a suitable non-Gausman young starter to send back also complicates things. A Fit? No.

Heyward. (David Banks/Getty)
Heyward. (David Banks/Getty)

Chicago Cubs
Outfielders? Jason Heyward and Jorge Soler. Kyle Schwarber plays an outfielder on TV.
Young Starters? Adam Warren! But seriously folks, no.
Cash? Oh indeed.

The Cubbies are no longer up-and-coming. They’re all-in. That much is clear. Right now the plan is to play Heyward in center field with Soler and Schwarber in the corners, though there’s talk they may move Soler for a young starter, which would push Heyward to right and free up center. Gardner would fill that center field hole perfectly. The problem? The Cubbies don’t have a young starter to send back to New York. That’s why they signed John Lackey and are open to flipping Soler for an arm. I mean, I guess Kyle Hendricks counts, but I’m not a fan. A Fit? Maybe.

Cleveland Indians
Michael Brantley will be out until May following shoulder surgery, leaving only Rajai Davis, Abe Almonte, Collin Cowgill, and Lonnie Chisenhall. (Chisenhall’s an outfielder now.)
Young Starters? Plenty. Carlos Carrasco or Danny Salazar would be ideal, Cody Anderson or Josh Tomlin are more likely.
Cash? Unlikely. Payroll has hovered around $85M for a few years now, and they have $64.5M on the books plus another $15.1M in projected arbitration salaries.

The payroll situation is a significant obstacle. The Yankees could always eat salary to facilitate a trade, but I can’t imagine they’d pay Gardner to play for another team, especially another AL contender. The Indians just went on a mini-spending spree (Davis, Mike Napoli) and the front office indicated they won’t be spending any more money. The Yankees have an outfielder to spare and the Indians appear to have a starter to spare. The finances are messing things up. A Fit? Maybe.

Detroit Tigers
Outfielders? Anthony Gose, Cameron Maybin, J.D. Martinez.
Young Starters? I assume Daniel Norris is off-limits, leaving Shane Greene and Matt Boyd.
Cash? For shizzle.

The Tigers are going for it next season. They’ve added Maybin, Justin Wilson, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Rodriguez so far this offseason. There’s an obvious opening in left field — Gose and Maybin would platoon in center, ideally — and Gardner would fill that spot well. He plays strong defense for spacious Comerica Park and gives them a nice leadoff option.

As for the young starters Detroit has to offer … eh. Boyd is an extreme fly ball guy who is as generic as generic lefties get. Greene? I know more than a few people out there would be cool with the idea of bringing him back, except I’m sure no one would think that if he wasn’t an ex-Yankee. If Greene came up and debuted with any team other than the Yankees, no one would love the idea of acquiring him after the season he just had. A Fit? Maybe.

Kansas City Royals
Outfielders? Lorenzo Cain is currently flanked by Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando. Yeah.
Young Starters? Yordano Ventura is presumably off-limits. Danny Duffy might not be. That’s it.
Cash? Seems likely. They had a $113M payroll last year and are currently at $108M for 2016, including arbitration projections. They just won the World Series and I assume payroll will increase. Payroll increased $10M following their 2014 postseason run, after all.

The Royals have a clear need for outfield help. They wisely let the unproductive Alex Rios walk as a free agent and will likely lose Alex Gordon to a club with a larger payroll. GM Dayton Moore has said they’re willing to give Dyson a chance as a starting outfielder, but Orlando? He was a nice story as a 29-year-old rookie in 2015, but he didn’t hit at all. Starting him should be a non-option.

Assuming the money works out, the only really issue is finding a suitable return. Duffy is interesting, though the Yankees are looking for guys they can control beyond 2017, and he doesn’t fit. He’ll be a free agent after 2017. That’s pretty much all the young pitching the Royals have to offer. They’re been scouring the market for an extra arm this offseason just like New York. A Fit? Maybe.

Los Angeles Angels
Outfielders? Woo Mike Trout! Kole Calhoun’s good too. Then there’s Daniel Nava and Craig Gentry.
Young Starters? Andrew Heaney ain’t happening. Nick Tropeano and the not-so-young Matt Shoemaker might.
Cash? Indubitably.

GM Billy Eppler told reporters he’s ready to roll with the Nava/Gentry platoon in left field, which sounds so unappealing. That would have been a good idea from, like, 2012-13. In 2015? Nah. The Angels also could use a left-handed bat to balance their lineup. Gardner would slot right in as the leadoff hitter and allow them to use Calhoun in a run-producing spot.

Furthermore, the Angels have some young pitching to offer, specifically Tropeano. I wrote about him in last week’s mailbag. Heaney would be ideal but it’s just not going to happen. It’s not realistic. The Gardner for Tropeano framework could make sense for both clubs. Eppler and Cashman certainly have a good relationship, which could help expedite things. A Fit? Yes.

St. Louis Cardinals
Outfielders? Matt Holliday, Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk, Tommy Pham.
Young Starters? Yes. Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha ain’t happening. Think Tyler Lyons, Tim Cooney, or maybe personal fave Marco Gonzales instead.
Cash? Yeah. They offered Heyward $200M and David Price $180M, reportedly.

Gonzales. (Ezra Shaw/Getty)
Gonzales. (Ezra Shaw/Getty)

This has been a tough offseason for the Cardinals. By bWAR, they lost their best pitcher (John Lackey) and position player (Heyward) to the rival Cubs. They made runs at Price and Heyward but fell short. Yesterday they added Mike Leake, who will probably end up throwing 230 innings with a sub-3.00 ERA in 2015 because of Cardinals Devil Magic™.

Even with all those outfield bodies, the Cardinals lack a true center fielder. Grichuk is the center fielder by default and he’s no better than average out there. Gardner would give them a real center fielder and allow Matt Carpenter to move into a run-producing lineup spot — did you know Carpenter hit 28 homers in 2015 after hitting 25 total from 2011-14? Like I said, Cardinals Devil Magic™ — plus they have some young arms to spare. Gardner for Cooney or Gonzales could be a thing. A Fit? Yes.

San Francisco Giants
Outfielders? Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco.
Young Starters? No. That’s why they had to sign Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija.
Cash? Yes. They had a $173.2M payroll in 2015 and are currently at $160M right now, counting arbitration projections.

The Giants do have some young outfielders they could try in left field, specifically Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker, but I can’t imagine they’d commit $220M to Cueto and Samardzija only to cheap out on the outfield. Pagan is declining and has missed a lot of time to injuries in recent years. They can’t count on him to contribute much.

Gardner fits their roster perfectly as the everyday left fielder, part-time center fielder, and leadoff hitter. They can also afford his salary, it appears. (They’re shedding Pagan’s contract next offseason too.) They just don’t have any young pitching to offer, and no, Chris Heston doesn’t count. I explained why in last week’s mailbag. The Giants didn’t sign Cueto and Samardzija because they had nothing better to do. They needed pitching in a big way. A Fit? Maybe.

Washington Nationals
Outfielders? Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Michael Taylor.
Young Starters? A few. Joe Ross and A.J. Cole are the most notable.
Cash? Yep. They reportedly offered Heyward $200M.

The Nationals are in a weird place. They had a very disappointing 2015 season, then lost several key players to free agency, yet they’re still in position to contend in 2016. Harper, Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Max Scherzer is a pretty strong core. They do need help though, especially with Werth and Ryan Zimmerman showing their age.

Gardner would step in to replace Denard Span as the center fielder and leadoff hitter, two obvious needs for Washington. The Nationals also have some young pitching to offer — Ross and Cole are the most notable (here’s my Scouting The Market post on Ross), but I guess Tanner Roark counts too — money to spend and incentive to win. Last year’s performance was embarrassing and they want to turn things around in a hurry. These two teams seem to match up awfully well for a trade. Whether they can agree to the particulars is another matter, but the puzzle pieces fit. A Fit? Yes.

* * *

So after all of that, I count three yeses (Angels, Cardinals, Nationals), two nos (D’Backs, Orioles), and five maybes (Cubs, Indians, Tigers, Royals, Giants). In the case of the Cubs, I think it’s worth noting Cashman and Theo Epstein are both pretty smart dudes with a willingness to be creative, so I wouldn’t rule out a three-team trade that sends Gardner to the Cubs and a young pitcher from the third team to the Yankees.

For now, it appears there are several possible suitors for Gardner, though I’m not really sure whether time is on the Yankees’ side. On one hand, if they hang onto him until after the top free agent outfielders sign, teams won’t have anywhere else to turn for outfield help. On the other hand, once the top free agents are off the board, there might not be any teams looking for outfield help. Quite the pickle, that is. The Yankees say they’re not shopping Gardner, but my guess is they would move him quickly if the right offer comes along. These ten teams stood out as the best possible suitors.

2015 Winter Meetings Open Thread: Tuesday

(Mike Ehrmann/Getty)
Fernandez. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty)

As far as the Yankees are concerned, yesterday was the slowest Winter Meetings day I can remember. Very few rumors came out of Nashville and those that did mostly involved stuff we’ve already heard, like Brett Gardner and Andrew Miller being available. It was a boring day, to say the least.

“Clearly, I’m not comfortable with recommending anything that’s come my way, despite a lot of dialogue, and my opponents are not comfortable with the things I’m suggesting at this time,” said Brian Cashman to Bryan Hoch. With a reportedly tight payroll, the Yankees continue to focus on trades, not free agents.

Here are Monday’s rumors if you missed any of the little bit that happened. Once again, we’ll keep track of the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here in this open thread, so make sure you check back often. All time stamps are ET.

  • 10:30am: The Yankees are among the teams “digging” on Jose Fernandez, meaning they’re asking around about his health, makeup, and work ethic. The Marlins understandably want five or six young players for their ace. Why ask for anything less? For what it’s worth, president of baseball operations Michael Hill said flatly “He’s not available.” [Jayson Stark, Jon Heyman, Clark Spencer]
  • 10:30am: The Yankees have interest in Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Miami has liked Bryan Mitchell as a starter and Adam Warren as a reliever in the past, which seems backwards, but whatever. It’s the Marlins. [George King]
  • 10:38am: The Yankees have reached out to free agent catcher Tyler Flowers, who was non-tendered by the White Sox last week. He’s deciding between the Yankees, Rays, and Braves. I wrote about Flowers in last week’s mailbag. He seems like a Yankees type because he rated as an elite pitch-framer in 2015. Flowers is from Georgia and the Braves offer way more playing time potential, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he lands in Atlanta. [Bryan Hoch]
  • 12:03pm: Five teams, including the Reds, Orioles, and Angels, have their eye on Jake Cave for Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft. Cave seems like a goner. Whether he sticks on the 25-man roster all year is another matter. [Brendan Kuty]
  • 1:00pm: The Yankees are willing to include Luis Severino in a package for Jose Fernandez. The belief is the Yankees do not have enough to land Fernandez though, even if they include Greg Bird in the deal. [Joe Frisaro]
  • 1:32pm: The Yankees say Luis Severino is not going anywhere. He wasn’t in their offer for Jose Fernandez and there are no ongoing talks. Sounds like the Marlins are trying to get the Yankees to blink and include Severino in the package, more than anything. [Joel Sherman]
  • 5:50pm: The Yankees and Cubs have talked about a trade that would bring Starlin Castro to New York. No word on any other pieces that would be involved. Castro’s young and I guess that means he offers upside, but he’s also been among the worst players in baseball two of the last three years. [Ken Rosenthal]
  • 6:08pm: Brett Gardner is not part of the current Starlin Castro talks with the Cubs. The Cubbies don’t want Jacoby Ellsbury either. Chicago is said to be working on all sorts of stuff — they’re after Ben Zobrist, discussing Javier Baez with the Braves and Rays, etc. — so this is part of some master plan for them. [Joel Sherman]
  • 6:14pm: Talks with the Cubs about Starlin Castro are in the early stages. The Yankees tend to keep things very close to the vest, annoyingly so at times (it’s boring!), so chances are this is coming from the Cubs’ side. [Jon Heyman]
  • 6:37pm: The Cubs have “been curious” about Adam Warren, whatever that means. Warren’s not a sexy name but he’s become incredibly valuable to the Yankees. I’m not sure Castro is enough of an upgrade at second base to move him. [Joel Sherman]
  • 7:51pm: The Yankees and Cubs are moving closer to a Starlin Castro trade. The Cubs just agreed to sign Ben Zobrist so it’s only a matter of time until Castro goes. [Buster Olney]

(Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.)

10/2 to 10/4 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles

Hurricane Joaquin

Welcome to the final regular season series of 2015. The season seems to move a little quicker with each passing year, doesn’t it? The Yankees are in Baltimore for a three-game set with the Orioles. They are 10-8 against the O’s this year, including 2-4 at Camden Yards. Those games were played a long time ago and under much different circumstances. The Orioles are just looking to get out of town now.

The weather has the potential to create some havoc this weekend. Not just for the Yankees, but all around baseball. Hurricane Joaquin is making its way up the East Coast, and, as you can see from the map above, no one has any idea which way it’s heading. The weather in Baltimore this weekend could be legitimately dangerous hurricane conditions or only a few showers. Hopefully it’s the latter, mostly for non-baseball reasons. These games do have postseason implications though — the Yankees have clinched a postseason spot but still need to clinch home field advantage — so MLB will figure out a way to get them in.

What Have The O’s Done Lately?

The Orioles were eliminated from postseason contention earlier this week, though it was clear they were out of the race a few weeks ago. They checked out for the season last month. The O’s have won two of their last seven games and they come into the final series at 78-81 with a +7 run differential.

Offense & Defense

The Orioles have been just about average at the plate this year. They’ve scored 4.35 runs per game with a team 94 wRC+, mostly because they don’t get on base (.304 OBP, third worst). They do hit homers though (210, third most). OF Adam Jones (109 wRC+) hasn’t played in a few days due to back stiffness and might sit out the weekend as well. Or maybe he’ll start a game and get pulled after one at-bat so the home fans can give him an ovation, something like that. Otherwise the O’s are healthy.

Davis & Machado. (Steven Ryan/Getty)
Davis & Machado. (Steven Ryan/Getty)

Even with Jones banged up, manager Buck Showalter has two star caliber hitters in his lineup in 3B Manny Machado (134 wRC+) and 1B Chris Davis (143 wRC+). Machado just turned 23 and he’s hitting .287/.360/.498 with 33 homers this year. Quietest “hey guys I’m a superstar” season ever? Maybe. Davis has 45 homers, by the way. C Matt Wieters (94 wRC+), SS J.J. Hardy (45 wRC+!), 2B Jonathan Schoop (112 wRC+), and OF Gerardo Parra (103 wRC+) are the other regulars you’ll recognize.

1B/OF Steve Pearce (96 wRC+), OF Nolan Reimold (91 wRC+), and UTIL Ryan Flaherty (76 wRC+) have been playing regularly this month while C Caleb Joseph (88 wRC+) has split time behind the plate with Wieters. The crop of September call-ups includes C Steve Clevenger, IF Paul Janish, 1B Christian Walker, OF Dariel Alvarez, OF Junior Lake, and OF David Lough.

The O’s have a pretty good team defense when at full strength. Machado, Hardy, Jones, Parra, and Wieters are all above-average to great defenders, and Davis is pretty good at first too. Others like Schoop and Reimold are okay in the field.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7pm ET): RHP Luis Severino (No vs. BAL) vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen (vs. NYY)
The 30-year-old Chen made his first big league start against the Yankees four years ago — the first batter he faced, Derek Jeter, took him deep (video) — and it looks like he’s going to make his final start with the Orioles against the Yankees as well. Chen is a free agent after the season and a Scott Boras client, which might price him out of Baltimore. He has a 3.35 ERA (4.18 FIP) in 30 starts and 185.1 innings this season, posting a good walk rate (5.0%), an average strikeout rate (19.6%), and below-average grounder (40.8%) and homer (1.36 HR/9) rates. Righties (.351 wOBA) have hit him a ton harder than lefties (.250 wOBA) this summer. Chen operates with low-90s two and four-seamers, low-80s changeups and sliders, and a low-70s curveball. The slider is his go-to offspeed pitch. The Yankees have seen Chen four times this season: two runs in six innings in April, one run in seven innings in May, three runs in 6.1 innings in July, and five runs in five innings in September.

Saturday (7pm ET): TBA vs. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (vs. NYY)
Jimenez, 31, is wrapping up the second year of his four-year contract with the Orioles. Year two (4.10 ERA and 4.04 FIP in 178 innings) has gone a lot better than year one (4.81 ERA and 4.67 FIP in 125.1 innings). Ubaldo has an above-average grounder rate (49.3%) while his strikeout (21.1%), walk (8.5%), and homer (1.01 HR/9) numbers are average-ish across the board. He has a slight reverse split this year (.329 vs. .309 wOBA in favor of righties) that is out of line with the rest of his career. Jimenez’s out pitch is a mid-80s splitter. He sets it up with low-90s two and four-seamers, and will also throw low-80s sliders and mid-70s curves. The curve is his distant fifth pitch. Ubaldo has seen the Yankees three times in 2015. One start was good (three runs in seven innings), one start was okay (three runs in five innings), and one start was ugly (seven runs in 2.1 innings).

Tillman. (Mitchell Layton/Getty)
Tillman. (Mitchell Layton/Getty)

Sunday (3pm ET): TBA vs. RHP Chris Tillman (vs. NYY)
The Opening Day starter is also getting the ball in Game 162. Tillman, 27, has had his worst season as a big leaguer in 2015, throwing 167.2 innings across 30 starts with a 5.05 ERA (4.48 ERA). His strikeout rate (16.1%) is way down and everything else is average: 8.4 BB%, 44.0 GB%, and 1.07 HR/9. Tillman has a reverse split (.352 vs. .302 wOBA in favor of righties) that is in line with the rest of his career, though not to this extreme. His fastball sits in the low-90s, his cutter a notch below that, and his trademark curveball sits in the mid-70s. He’ll also throw a mid-80s sliders and changeups. Believe it or not, the Yankees have faced Tillman just once this season. They scored four runs in 5.2 innings against him back in May.

Since this is the final series of the season, the pitching situation is subject to change. The Yankees are listing TBAs for Saturday and Sunday so they can set things up for the postseason. (Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova are lined up to pitch those day.) The Orioles could decide to simply shut their guys down and get a look at some kids. There’s also the rain too. They might not want to run their regulars out there on a wet final in the final series of the year.

Bullpen Status
Way back in April, Baltimore’s bullpen was a major weakness that contributed to their sluggish start. They turned it around and have had one of the best bullpens in the game over the last few months, with closer LHP Zach Britton (1.98 ERA/2.01 FIP) and setup man RHP Darren O’Day (1.54/2.42) the stars of the show. LHP Brian Matusz (2.94/3.59) is the primary lefty and RHP Mychal Givens (1.88/1.81) has pitched his way into high-leverage work of late.

RHP Brad Brach (2.77/3.44), LHP T.J. MacFarland (4.82/4.64), RHP Chaz Roe (4.14/3.87), and Rule 5 Draft pick RHP Jason Garcia (4.25/4.89) have been regulars in the bullpen most of the year. The list of September call-ups includes RHP Oliver Drake, RHP Jorge Rondon, RHP Tyler Wilson, and RHP Mike Wright. Wilson, McFarland, Givens, Brach, Matusz, O’Day, and Britton all pitched yesterday. Our Bullpen Workload page can keep you updated on Joe Girardi‘s bullpen. Head over to Camden Chat for the latest on the O’s.

Yankeemetrics: Baltimore chopped (Sept. 7-9)

A-Rod's historic 30th homer (
A-Rod‘s historic 30th homer (

Comeback kids
The Yankees earned their 37th comeback win of the season on Monday afternoon against the Orioles, thanks to the heroics of the two youngest guys in the lineup (John Ryan Murphy and Greg Bird) plus some help from the oldest guy in the lineup (Alex Rodriguez).

A-Rod sliced the O’s lead to 4-3 in the fifth inning with a solo homer before Murphy’s two-run shot later in the inning gave the Yankees a 5-4 lead. Murphy finished the game 2 for 4, raising his batting average against the Orioles this season to .529 (9 for 17), the second-highest by any player (min. 15 at-bats).

After Manny Machado evened the game at 5-5 in the seventh inning, Bird responded in the bottom of the frame with a tie-breaking three-run blast that ended up as the game-winner. Before Bird, the last Yankee first baseman with a go-ahead homer in the seventh inning or later against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium was Don Mattingly on Aug. 31, 1993.

Dellin Betances is no stranger to doing amazing things on the mound, but his 27-pitch performance was more weird than spectacular. He faced six batters in the eighth inning, walking three and striking out three without giving up a run. Betances is the only Yankee reliever in the Divisional Era (since 1969) to put together an inning with at least three strikeouts, three walks and no runs allowed.

Wasted gem
There are ugly wins and there are ugly losses … and Tuesday’s game definitely qualifies as the latter. Masahiro Tanaka delivered one of his best performances of the season, but the Yankees managed just six hits (five singles) and went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position, resulting in a rare loss for the Yankees in a game where their starter was so brilliant.

This is the first time the Yankees lost a game in which their starting pitcher went at least eight innings, allowed no more than one run and struck out at least 10 batters since Aug. 24, 1990. Tim Leary was the unlucky guy in that l-0 loss to the Brewers more than 25 years ago.

The offense was brutal aside from the bat of Alex Rodriguez, who reached yet another milestone when he sent a 98 mph fastball over the fences in the sixth inning to tie the game at 1-1. That pitch was the fastest one he’s ever homered against since Pitch F/X tracking began in 2008.

It was also his 30th homer of the season and the 15th time in his career he’s reached that mark, tying Hank Aaron for the most 30-homer seasons in MLB history. And, at the age of 40 years and 43 days, he became the second-oldest player to hit his 30th homer of the season. Only Darrell Evans (40 years and 115 days) was older than A-Rod at the time he hit No. 30 in 1987.

Boo birds
The Yankees certainly gave their fans plenty to boo about on Wednesday night, dropping the rubber game of this series against the sub-.500 Orioles thanks to some sloppy defense and yet another listless performance by the offense.

Carlos Beltran was the only Yankee who could solve the Orioles’ enigmatic starter Ubaldo Jimenez. Beltran was 2 for 3 against Jimenez, driving in all three of the Yankees runs; Jimenez held the rest of the Yankees lineup to just two hits in his seven innings of work. Beltran is now 9 for 23 (.391) against Jimenez, the highest batting average by any player that has faced him at least 25 times.

Beltran’s solo homer in the bottom of the first inning — his 15th of the season — tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the first inning. That blast gave him 10 career seasons with at least 15 home runs and 30 doubles, matching Chipper Jones for the most such seasons all-time among switch hitters.

9/7 to 9/9 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles

(David Banks/Getty)
(David Banks/Getty)

Another division rival visits the Bronx. The Orioles come to town clinging to very remote postseason hopes while the Yankees are very much in the race and in need of every possible win. Big series. They’re all big series from here on out. The Yankees are 8-5 against the O’s this season, including 6-1 at Yankee Stadium. The home team has won all four series these two clubs have played in 2015.

What Have The Orioles Done Lately?

Boy, manager Buck Showalter’s team has collapsed big time the last few weeks. They have lost 14 of their last 17 games and are now 65-71 with a +26 run differential overall this season. They’re 11.5 games back of the second place Yankees in the AL East and 6.5 games back of a wildcard spot. Doesn’t look like there will be October baseball in Baltimore this year.

Offense & Defense

The O’s average 4.34 runs per game with a 97 team wRC+, so they’re an approximately league average offense this year. They hit a lot of homers (fourth in baseball with 179) but they don’t get on base (27th in baseball with a .305 OBP). The O’s are currently without SS J.J. Hardy (groin), who is not expected to return this series. C Matt Wieters (90 wRC+) is day-to-day with a sore wrist.

(Jamie Squire/Getty)
Jones. (Jamie Squire/Getty)

Showalter has three star caliber producers in the middle of his lineup: IF Manny Machado (132 wRC+), OF Adam Jones (116 wRC+), and 1B Chris Davis (140 wRC+). Davis leads all of baseball with 40 home runs, including 21 homers in his last 44 games. He’s a monster. Machado, by the way, has been playing some shortstop with Hardy out. He came up through the minors as a shortstop. Those three are the core of the O’s lineup.

Yankees killer IF Jonathan Schoop (118 wRC+) has been playing second everyday and C Caleb Joseph (101 wRC+) has played a ton this year thanks to Wieters’ injuries. OF Gerardo Parra (117 wRC+) hasn’t had much impact since being acquired at the deadline (60 wRC+ with the O’s) and UTIL Steve Pearce (84 wRC+) has been unable to repeat last season’s success. UTIL Jimmy Paredes (99 wRC+) predictably crashed back to Earth following his hot start. IF Ryan Flaherty (78 wRC+) is the utility infielder. OF Junior Lake, OF Nolan Reimold, IF Paul Janish, and C Steve Clevenger are the September call-ups.

The O’s have a pretty good defensive club, though they’ve somehow picked up the reputation for being one of the best defensive units in the game. Jones and Parra are great in the outfield and Machado is unreal at third (haven’t seen him much at short), plus Davis is underrated at first and Wieters is a stud behind the plate. Others like Schoop, Pearce, and Paredes are in the lineup for their bats, not their gloves. Well, Schoop’s okay. That’s not fair to him.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (1pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. BAL) vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen (vs. NYY)
This has been a solid contract year for the 30-year-old Chen, who has pitched to a 3.36 ERA (4.37 FIP) in 26 starts and 160.2 innings. His walk rate (5.3%) is very good, his strikeout rate (19.4%) is about average, and both his grounder (40.7%) and homer (1.46 HR/9) rates are worse than average. Righties (.347 wOBA) have hit him a ton harder than lefties (.277 wOBA) this season. Chen operates with low-90s two and four-seamers, low-80s changeups and sliders, and a low-70s curveball. The slider is his go-to offspeed pitch. The Yankees have faced Chen three times this season: two runs in six innings in April, one run in seven innings in May, and three runs in 6.1 innings in July.

Tuesday (7pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. BAL) vs. RHP Kevin Gausman (vs. NYY)
The O’s have not had much success getting their top pitching prospects to fulfill their potential over the last two decades or so, and the 24-year-old Gausman is no different. He has a 4.59 ERA (4.46 FIP) in 12 starts and eight relief appearances this season. Like Chen, he has a good walk rate (5.7%), an average strikeout rate (20.1%), and below-average grounder (43.6%) and homer (1.53 HR/9) rates. Gausman has a big reverse split: righties have a .362 wOBA against him while lefties have a .294 wOBA. A mid-90s four-seamer sets up his mid-80s changeup and low-80s slider, the latter of which he’s yet to really develop a feel for since being the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft. The Yankees have seen Gausman twice this year, scoring two runs in two-thirds of an inning of relief in April, and then scoring four runs in a six-inning start in July.

Gausman. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)
Gausman. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)

Wednesday (7pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. BAL) vs. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (vs. NYY)
These are the same three starters — in the same order — the Yankees faced when they swept the O’s at Yankee Stadium a few weeks ago, effectively knocking them out of the AL East race. Jimenez, 31, has a 4.24 ERA (4.11 FIP) in 153 innings spread across 27 starts this season. His 49.2% ground ball rate is better than the league average, but otherwise his strikeout (20.9%), walk (8.5%), and homer (1.06 HR/9) numbers are average or slightly worse. Ubaldo’s platoon split is relatively small (.333 vs. .320 wOBA in favor of righties) because his out pitch is a mid-80s splitter, which helps him neutralize lefties. Jimenez sets the split up with low-90s two and four-seamers, and will also throw low-80s sliders and mid-70s curves. The curve is his distant fifth pitch. Ubaldo has faced the Yankees twice in 2015. One start went okay (three runs in five innings) and the other was a disaster (seven runs in 2.1 innings).

As for the Yankees, Sabathia (knee) is tentatively scheduled to come off the DL to make Wednesday’s start. That depends on how he feels following today’s bullpen session. If he has some sort of problem, Joe Girardi said the Yankees would simply stay on rotation, meaning Luis Severino would get the ball on normal rest instead.

Bullpen Status
Showalter’s bullpen was a disaster early in the season, though they settled down in the middle of the summer and now have a 2.93 ERA (3.36 FIP) overall. Closer LHP Zach Britton (2.00 ERA/1.92 FIP) and setup man RHP Darren O’Day (1.71/2.73) are among the top end-game duos in baseball this year. LHP Brian Matusz (2.25/3.17) is the primary left-on-left matchup guy. Ex-Yankee RHP Chaz Roe (3.65/3.55) has had some success this year around injury.

RHP Brad Brach (2.58/3.48), LHP T.J. MacFarland (4.13/4.53), and Rule 5 Draft pick RHP Jason Garcia (4.62/5.16) are the other regulars in Showalter’s bullpen. RHP Mychal Givens (1.42/1.83 in limited time) has seen a lot of work of late. The crop of September call-ups includes RHP Oliver Drake, RHP Steve Johnson, and RHP Jorge Rondon. Johnson, Matusz, Roe, Brach, Garcia, and Drake all pitched a bit yesterday. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi’s bullpen, then check out Camden Chat for the latest on the Orioles.

7/21 to 7/23 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles


We’re now into the dog days of summer, and this week the Yankees will play a fairly important three-game series at home against the Orioles. Every intra-division series from here out will be super important. The Yanks and O’s have split ten games this season, though the Yankees took three of four at Yankee Stadium back in May. The other six games were in Camden Yards.

What Have The O’s Done Lately?

Baltimore had an off-day yesterday like the Yankees. They took two of three from the Tigers over the weekend in their first series of the season half after losing ten of 13 to close out the first half. The O’s are 46-45 overall with a +44 run differential. They’re in second place in the division and four games back of New York. So no matter what happens this series, the Yankees will be in first place when it’s over.

Offense & Defense

Manager Buck Showalter’s offense is a tick above-average, scoring 4.42 runs per game thanks to a team 102 wRC+. They are perfectly healthy on the position player side. No one on the DL or even day-to-day.

Machado. (Presswire)
Machado. (Presswire)

OF Adam Jones (129 wRC+) is the big name, and 1B Chris Davis (116 wRC+) hit all those home runs a few years ago, but 3B Manny Machado (149 wRC+) is the O’s best player. He’s already set career highs in homers (20) and stolen bases (13) and is still only 23. He just turned 23 earlier this month too. Machado is very quietly having a “hey guys, I’m a superstar now” breakout season. Also, Davis has been playing right field of late.

Ex-Yankees farmhand UTIL Jimmy Paredes (118 wRC+) is still having an inexplicably good season while 1B/OF Steve Pearce (87 wRC+) hasn’t been able to repeat last year’s effort. C Matt Wieters (95 wRC+) is back from Tommy John surgery but isn’t playing everyday just yet. They’re easing him back into things. SS J.J. Hardy (61 wRC+) and IF Jonathan Schoop (177 wRC+ in very limited time) are the middle infield combo. Schoop came back off the DL recently, just in time to get back to killing the Yankees.

OF Nolan Reimold (99 wRC+ in limited time), OF Travis Snider (96 wRC+), and OF David Lough (70 wRC+) are the other outfielders who seem to take turns playing each game. C Caleb Joseph (94 wRC+) splits time with Wieters and both IF Ryan Flaherty (92 wRC+) and 1B/OF Chris Parmelee (107 wRC+) are the bench players. The O’s have great defenders in center (Jones), on the left side of the infield (Hardy and Machado), and behind the plate (Wieters). The defense is average to poor most other spots.

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday (7pm ET): RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. BAL) vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen (vs. NYY)
I didn’t realize the 30-year-old Chen will be a free agent after the season. He’d had a good walk year (2.78 ERA and 4.19 FIP in 110 innings) and should land himself a nice little contract. Chen’s strikeout rate (20.4%) is about average but he’s allowed fewer walks (5.7%) and gets fewer grounders (40.4%) than the league average hurler. His homer rate (1.39 HR/9) is sky high and righties (.307 wOBA) have hit him harder than lefties (.290 wOBA). Chen operates with low-90s two and four-seamers, low-80s changeups and sliders, and a low-70s curveball. The slider is his go-to offspeed pitch. The Yankees have seen Chen twice this year, scoring two runs in six innings in April and one run in seven innings in May.

Wednesday (7pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. BAL) vs. RHP Kevin Gausman (vs. NYY)
Gausman, 24, looks like the next great O’s pitching prospect who is going to fall short of his ceiling. This club hasn’t had a top pitching prospect max out since Mike Mussina. Gausman missed time with a shoulder injury and has bounced up and down between Triple-A and MLB this season, pitching to a 5.00 ERA (3.87 FIP) in only 27 big league innings. His peripherals are average-ish across the board: 21.2 K%, 7.6 BB%, 43.9 GB%, and 1.00 HR/9. Lefties (.367) have had way more success against Gausman than righties (.258 wOBA), both this year and in his career. A mid-90s four-seamer sets up his mid-80s changeup and low-80s slider, the latter of which he’s yet to really develop a feel for since being the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft. Gausman has faced the Yankees once this year, allowing two runs in two-thirds of an inning in relief.

Ubaldo. (Presswire)
Ubaldo. (Presswire)

Thursday (1pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. BAL) vs. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (vs. NYY)
It appears Good Ubaldo has shown up this season. The 31-year-old has a 3.29 ERA (3.49 FIP) in 104 innings this summer with a good strikeout rate (23.4%) and average walk (7.3%), grounder (46.6%), and homer (0.95 HR/9) numbers. Jimenez has a reverse split (.318 vs. .293 wOBA in favor of righties), which is typical of his good years, because his out pitch is a mid-80s splitter. He sets it up with low-90s two and four-seamers, and will also throw low-80s sliders and mid-70s curves. The curve is his distant fifth pitch. The Yankees have faced Ubaldo just once this year, scoring three runs in five innings last month.

Bullpen Status
Showalter’s bullpen started the season horribly but has gotten better the last few weeks and months. They currently have a 2.84 ERA (3.41 FIP) as a unit. Closer LHP Zach Britton (1.67 ERA/1.76 FIP) has the best sinker in baseball and is set up by RHP Darren O’Day (1.04/2.86). Both of those dudes were All-Stars. LHP Brian Matusz (2.43/3.63) is the situational lefty.

RHP Tommy Hunter (4.08/3.36) and ex-Yankee RHP Chaz Roe (2.48/2.95) are the middle innings righties along with RHP Brad Brach (3.02/3.06). RHP Bud Norris (6.82/5.65) lost his rotation spot a few weeks back and has been pitching in long relief. Head over to our Bullpen Workload for the status of New York’s bullpen, then check out Camden Chat for updates on the O’s.

Yankeemetrics: No sweep for you (June 12-14)

Welcome to The Show, Mason. (AP Photo)
Welcome to The Show, Mason. (AP Photo)

Orange crushed
So maybe that plan to skip Michael Pineda’s last start in order preserve his innings this season wasn’t the best idea. Sure, it might pay off in the long run, but in the short-term, it was really costly for the Yankees.

Pineda was rocked for six runs (five earned) on nine hits in Friday night’s 11-3 loss, and was pulled after getting one in the fifth inning. He is now 1-7 with a 4.23 ERA on six-plus days’ rest in his career, more than a full run higher than his ERA in all other games (20-11, 3.00 ERA).

The lone highlight of the game was the debut of Mason Williams, who joined a few notable names when Joe Girardi wrote his name on the lineup card as the starting center fielder for his first major-league game. The other Yankees to do that in the last 30 years were Melky Cabrera (2005), Bernie Williams (1991), Deion Sanders (1989) and Roberto Kelly (1987).

Williams wasted little time in showing why he deserved the call-up, getting his first big-league hit and home run with one swing of the bat in the fourth inning. His two-run blast was a historic one, making him just the ninth Yankee to homer in his first major-league game.

Only three others in that group, though, hit their milestone homer with at least one guy on base like Williams did: Marcus Thames (June 2, 2002 off Randy Johnson!), John Miller (Sept. 11, 1966) and Yogi Berra (Sept. 22, 1946).

Wild, wild, wild Martin
Somehow, someway, the Yankees keep finding new ways to lose games. On Saturday night, the goat was Chris Martin, who entered in relief of CC Sabathia in the sixth inning when the teams were locked in a 4-4 tie.

Martin then uncorked three (!) wild pitches in the frame and allowed three runs, and the Yankees could never recover in the 9-4 loss. Martin had thrown only one wild pitch in his career before this game … because, of course, baseball.

Oh, and he is just the second Yankee reliever in the last 100 seasons to throw at least three wild pitches in a game. The other was Ken Clay on July 28, 1979 against the Brewers.

Sabathia’s recent struggles at Camden Yards continued (4 R, 8 H, 5 IP) as he got the no-decision and is 0-5 in his last eight starts in Baltimore. That is tied with Stan Bahnsen (1968-71) for the longest road winless streak by a Yankee starting pitcher against the Orioles since the team moved to the Charm City in 1954.

The Orioles pounded all the Yankee pitchers for the second straight night, with 15 hits to go along with their nine runs. It is the first time the Yankees have allowed at least nine runs and 15 hits in back-to-back games against the Orioles since 1932 — when the team was known as the St. Louis Browns.

Losing streak is Ooooooh-ver
The Yankees avoided the series sweep on Sunday afternoon with a come-from-behind 5-3 win. John Ryan Murphy’s tie-breaking two-run double in the fifth inning was the game-winning hit, and the bullpen pitched 4 1/3 hitless innings to secure the victory.

Murphy is the first Yankees catcher to have at least three hits and two RBI in a road game against the Orioles since Thurman Munson on Sept. 5, 1976.

Once again, a Yankees starter failed to give them length, yet they still managed to win the game thanks to their dominant relief corps. It was the fifth time in 2015 the Yankees won a game despite their starter pitching fewer than five innings. No other team in baseball has won more such games this season.