Saturday Links: Gurriel, Beltran, A-Rod, Forbes, Watson

Lourdes Jr. (Getty)
Lourdes Jr. (Getty)

The Yankees and Angels continue their weekend series later today, but not until 9:35pm ET. Blah. I hate Saturday night games, especially when they’re on the West Coast. Oh well. What can you do? Here are some links to help you pass the time.

MLB declares Gurriel a free agent

MLB has declared Lourdes Gurriel Jr. a free agent, reports Eric Longenhagen. He is the younger brother of Yulieski Gurriel, who signed a five-year contract worth $47.5M with the Astros a few weeks ago. Lourdes is a free agent but he’s not going to sign right away. Once he turns 23 in October, he will no longer be eligible for the international spending restrictions. He’s going to wait until then to sign to max out his earning potential.

Longenhagen and Ben Badler (subs. req’d) say reports on Lourdes are mixed. He’s a good athlete capable of playing an up-the-middle position, and while he has speed and power, his swing can get long. Gurriel has a lot of upside, but is also a bit of a project for a kid who will soon turn 23. He’s probably not someone who will zoom through the minors and be in the big leagues within a year. That’s fine. Talent is talent, and Lourdes has a lot of it.

Red Sox tried hard to land Beltran

According to Nick Cafardo, the Red Sox “tried very hard” to acquire Carlos Beltran at the trade deadline, though the Rangers swooped in with a better offer. I assume Boston would have played Beltran in left field, where they’ve had a revolving door pretty much all season. Or maybe Beltran plays right and Mookie Betts moves to left. I dunno. Who cares. Whatever.

The real question is whether the Yankees (and Red Sox, for that matter) would have actually gone through with the trade if the Red Sox had indeed made the best offer. Potentially losing a trade to your biggest rival is enough to make anyone squeamish. My guess is Brian Cashman and David Dombrowski would have been willing to go through with a trade, but the two ownership groups would not have signed off. This is much different than a Stephen Drew-for-Kelly Johnson swap.

Hal not ruling out a spot for A-Rod in Monument Park

During a radio interview last week, Hal Steinbrenner did not rule out the possibility of Alex Rodriguez one day winding up in Monument Park. He didn’t exactly endorse it, but he didn’t shoot it down entirely either. Here’s what Hal said, via Brendan Kuty:

“It’s a bridge to cross when we come to it, but he has done a lot for this organization, on and off the field,” Steinbrenner said. “And I’m talking about players way back, even (Mariners second baseman Robinson) Cano, who he was a mentor to. He’s done a lot for this organization on the field though the years, but also off the field that people don’t know about. He’s been a great mentor.”

A-Rod is, unquestionably, one of the greatest players in Yankees history, especially recent history. He’s among the all-time franchise leaders in a ton of categories, including homers (6th), OPS (7th), WAR (8th), OPS+ (10th), runs (10th), and total bases (10th). Alex also won two MVPs in pinstripes and was a major factor in the team’s most recent World Series title. If that’s not Monument Park plaque worthy, I don’t know what is.

(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)
(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)

Yankees among most valuable sports franchises

A few weeks back Forbes posted their annual look at the most valuable sports franchises in the world. The Yankees placed fourth, with an estimated value of $3.4 billion. That’s up 6% from last year. The Yankees are behind only the Dallas Cowboys ($4 billion), Real Madrid ($3.65 billion), and Barcelona ($3.55 billion). The Dodgers are the second most valuable MLB franchise at $2.5 billion, so the gap between the Yankees and everyone else is significant.

Attendance dropped from 41,995 fans per game in 2014 to 39,430 last year, and again to 38,967 so far this year. That’s roughly 3,000 fewer fans per game since two seasons ago. The attendance decline was at least somewhat expected after Derek Jeter retired, though obviously the team’s less than inspiring play for much of this season has played a role too. That said, the Yankees are still raking in money through other avenues (YES, Legends Hospitality, etc.), and there’s no real end in sight. The team prints money.

Watson battling kidney failure

Going to close with some sad news: Bob Watson, former GM of the Yankees, is currently battling kidney failure, he told Chuck Modiano. He is on nocturnal dialysis and doctors told him he only has a few years to live. “I really wanted to be (at the 1996 World Series reunion last weekend), but my health won’t allow it. I am battling Stage 4 kidney failure. Not too many people know about it,” said Watson, who beat prostate cancer in the mid-1990s.

Watson, 70, had an incredibly productive playing career — he hit .295/.364/.447 from 1966-84, mostly with the Astros, but also with the Braves, Yankees, and Red Sox — and he became the first African American GM in baseball history to win a World Series in 1996. Watson served as Yankees GM from October 1995 to February 1998, when he stepped down and took a position in the commissioner’s office. He bridged the Gene Michael and Brian Cashman eras. I’m sad to hear he isn’t doing well. Keep fighting, Bob.

Yankeemetrics: The Not-Farewell Tour [Aug. 9-11]

(AP)
(AP)

Severino stumbles again
The Yankees opened their series at Fenway Park in familiar fashion — with a loss that dropped them back to .500 (56-56). This was the 17th time they’ve been exactly even in the win-loss ledger, which easily tops all MLB teams this season.

Another thing that has become commonplace for this Yankee club is mediocre starting pitching. Luis Severino returned to the rotation hoping to build on the promising work he’d done out of the bullpen the past few weeks, but instead reverted back to the same struggling pitcher he was at the beginning of season.

He was roughed up for five runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings and fell to 0-7 with a 7.78 ERA as a starter this season. The last Yankee pitcher to lose his first seven decisions of the season as a starter was Doyle Alexander in 1982.

Even worse is the fact that the Yankees still haven’t won a game started by Severino in 2016. This is the first time in more 80 years that the Yankees have lost the first eight games started by any pitcher in a season. In 1934, they lost the first eight times that Russ Van Atta took the mound as a starting pitcher.

While the Yankees’ recent youth movement has been well-documented, the Red Sox also boast an enviable cavalry of young and exciting players. The latest call-up is 22-year-old Andrew Benintendi, who had a tremendous night at the plate, going 3-for-3 with an RBI double and two runs scored.

The former Arkansas Razorback star is the answer to our latest #FunFact, becoming the youngest Red Sox outfielder with at least three hits against Yankees at Fenway Park since Ted Williams in 1940.

(NY Daily News)
(NY Daily News)

A Yankee legend is born
The Yankees bounced back from Tuesday’s loss with an impressive and uplifting win on Wednesday night, as they stormed back from a 4-1 deficit with eight unanswered runs in the seventh and eighth innings en route a stunning 9-4 victory.

The outlook for a win was grim early on when starter Nathan Eovaldi was removed after pitching one inning due to elbow discomfort. Joe Girardi was then forced to churn through seven relievers to finish off the contest. The eight pitchers used was the most ever by a Yankee team in a nine-inning game before Sept. 1 (when rosters expand).

Starlin Castro capped off the Yankees’ furious seventh inning rally with a tie-breaking, bases-loaded, two-run double for a 6-4 lead. That hit upped Castro’s batting average with the bases full to .467 (7-for-15) this season, the highest mark among players with more than 10 at-bats in that situation through Wednesday’s games.

Castro wore the hero’s cape but it was Gary Sanchez who grabbed the headlines with his spectacular 4-for-5 performance at the plate.

The 23-year-old Sanchez is the youngest Yankee with a four-hit game against the Red Sox since Derek Jeter on July 2, 1996 (in the Bronx), and the youngest Yankee to have four hits in a game at Fenway Park since Don Mattingly on June 12, 1984.

But not only did Sanchez have four hits, he also crushed his first major-league home run, a mammoth shot to center field in the eighth inning. That made him the first Yankee age 23 or younger with at least four hits and a home run in a game against the Red Sox since Mickey Mantle on May 22, 1954.

A-Rod says goodbye to Fenway
For the second night in a row, the Yankees seemed doomed for another loss before staging an improbable late-inning rally, this time winning by the final score of 4-2.

Down 2-1 in the eighth inning with the bases loaded, Jacoby Ellsbury drilled a line drive double to left field, scoring two runs. It was the first time in pinstripes that he’s delivered a go-ahead hit with the team trailing in the eighth inning or later, and is the only Yankee to do that this season.

The good version of Michael Pineda showed up in Boston as he scattered eight hits across six innings, allowing just two runs against a potent Red Sox offense. This was his 10th start versus the Red Sox as a Yankee, and the eighth time he’s given up no more than two runs. Since his first season in pinstripes in 2014, that’s the most such starts among all major-league pitchers and twice as many as any other Yankee in that span.

(AP)
(AP)

A-Rod’s final cuts in Yankee road grays were hardly memorable (except for the loud booing) as he went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. If this is the end for A-Rod, he’ll finish his career with 59 career homers against the Red Sox, the sixth-most all-time and the most among players in the Divisional Era (since 1969). The only men ahead of him are Babe Ruth (90), Lou Gehrig (70), Mickey Mantle (69), Al Kaline (62) and Harmon Killebrew (61).

The other Rodriguez in this game, the Red Sox starter Eduardo, stifled the Yankee bats as he held them to a single run on three hits in seven innings pitched. He’s made a habit of dominating the Bronx Bombers: he hasn’t surrendered more than two runs in any of his six career starts against them.

Rodriguez is the first Red Sox pitcher in the last 100 years to have six straight starts versus the Yankees with two or fewer runs allowed in each game. The last pitcher on any team to begin his career with a streak like that against the Yankees was Dave Davenport for the St. Louis Browns in 1916.

8/9 to 8/11 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The final road series of Alex Rodriguez‘s career will take him where he played his first ever MLB game: Fenway Park. (No, the Red Sox are not planning to honor him.) The Yankees are in Boston for a three-game series with the Red Sox this week. If you’re still hoping to see the Yankees make a run at the postseason spot (I am!), this pretty much is a must-win series. New York is 3-6 against the BoSox this season. They were swept in three games in Fenway back in late-April/early-May.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Red Sox just wrapped up a long ten-game West Coast trip, during which they went 5-5. They lost four of the final six games. Overall, Boston is 60-50 with a +86 run differential on the season. That’s the best run differential but only the fifth best record in the AL. They’re 2.5 games back in the AL East and tied with the Tigers for the second wildcard spot. The Yankees are 4.5 games back of Boston.

Offense & Defense

Manager John Farrell oversees the highest scoring offense in baseball, and it’s not all that close either. The Red Sox are averaging 5.44 runs per game in 2016. The Coors Field aided Rockies are second at 5.20. The Indians are the next closest AL team at 4.99. So, yeah, the Red Sox can score. They have a team 114 wRC+, again the best in baseball, and the only regulars they’re missing are OF Chris Young (hamstring), C Ryan Hanigan (ankle), and C/OF Blake Swihart (ankle). And I guess 3B Pablo Sandoval (shoulder) too, but they don’t miss him.

Ortiz. (Elsa/Getty)
Ortiz. (Elsa/Getty)

For the most part Farrell has had a set top of the lineup. RF Mookie Betts (134 wRC+) leads off, 2B Dustin Pedroia (116 wRC+) hits second, SS Xander Bogaerts (123 wRC+) bats third, DH David Ortiz (160 wRC+) cleans up, and 1B Hanley Ramirez (109 wRC+) hits fifth. CF Jackie Bradley Jr. (133 wRC+) tends to hit sixth. Ortiz has had a phenomenal final season but has cooled off quite a bit in the second half (62 wRC+). Will that make me feel any more comfortable when he’s up at the plate this week? No. No it will not.

The Red Sox are platooning IF Travis Shaw (105 wRC+) and IF Aaron Hill (99 wRC+) at third base, and quasi-platooning UTIL Brock Holt (91 wRC+) and OF Andrew Benintendi (107 wRC+ in very limited time) in left. Holt and Benintendi are both lefty hitters, so they’ve been sharing time more than straight platooning. C Sandy Leon (161 wRC+) has taken over as the everyday catcher with C Bryan Holaday (74 wRC+) backing him up. OF Bryce Brentz (81 wRC+) is the other bench player.

Defensively, the Red Sox are a very good club, especially in the outfield. Bradley is great in center and Betts and Benintendi are good in the corners. (Holt isn’t all that good in left.) Pedroia is their best defensive infielder. Hanley and Shaw have their fish out of water moments on the corners, and while Bogaerts is solid, he’s in the lineup for his bat, first and foremost. Leon’s very good behind the plate.

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday (7:10pm ET): RHP Luis Severino (vs. BOS) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (vs. NYY)
Following a pretty disastrous first season in Boston, the still only 27-year-old Porcello has bounced back nicely this year. He has a 3.46 ERA (3.77 FIP) in 22 starts and 143 innings, with a career high strikeout rate (20.5%) and a career low walk rate (4.3%). Both his homer (1.07 HR/9) and grounder (45.2%) rates are closer to average these days after being much better than that earlier in his career. Righties have actually given Porcello a harder time than lefties this season, which the opposite of the rest of his career. He lives off a sinker right around 90 mph, and uses both low-80s changeups and low-70s curveballs regularly. Porcello has seen the Yankees twice this season: seven scoreless innings in April and three runs in seven innings in May.

Wednesday (7:10pm ET): RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. BOS) vs. LHP Drew Pomeranz (vs. NYY)
Pomeranz, 27, came over from the Padres prior to the trade deadline, and while he’s having a strong season overall (3.09 ERA and 3.61 FIP in 122.1 innings), his four starts with the Red Sox have not gone well (6.20 ERA and 6.03 FIP in 20.1 innings). His overall strikeout (27.0%) rate is excellent, and his grounder (47.5%) and homer (0.96 HR/9) numbers are good, but he walks way too many (10.5%). He averages 4.13 pitches per plate appearance, sixth highest in MLB. The southpaw will run his pitch count up quick. Thanks to his big-breaking upper-70s curveball and upper-80s cutter, Pomeranz has a very small platoon split. His straight four-seamer sits in the low-90s and his changeup in the mid-80s. The Yankees faced Pomeranz when he was still with the Padres a few weeks ago. He held them to one run in seven innings.

Pomeranz. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)
Pomeranz. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

Thursday (7:10pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. BOS) vs. RHP Steven Wright (vs. NYY)
Blah. Just can’t escape the knuckleball. The 31-year-old Wright has a 3.01 ERA (3.37 FIP) in 22 starts and 146.2 innings, though his home run rate (0.46 HR/9) has been on the rise of late. That was to be expected. Knuckleballers aren’t exactly known for keeping the ball in the park. Wright has average-ish strikeout (20.2%), walk (8.4%), and grounder (44.2%) rates, which is fairly common for knuckleball guys. Righties have had much more success against him that lefties so far this season. Wright’s knuckler floats in around 73 mph, and his get-me-over fastball sits in the low-80s. He throws his heater around 16% of the time, which is a lot by knuckleballer standards. Wright likes to surprise hitters with it in two-strike counts when they’re sitting knuckleball. The Yankees have seen Wright twice this year. He held them to one run in nine innings in May, and three runs in six innings in July.

Bullpen Status

You could make a case the Red Sox are without their second (RHP Carson Smith) and third (RHP Koji Uehara) best relievers right now. Smith is out for the season due to Tommy John surgery while Uehara is out for several weeks with a pectoral issue. Here’s the bullpen Farrell is working with now:

Closer: RHP Craig Kimbrel (3.31 ERA/2.59 FIP)
Setup: RHP Brad Ziegler (2.45/3.36), RHP Junichi Tazawa (3.52/4.15)
Middle: LHP Fernando Abad (2.72/3.79), RHP Matt Barnes (3.00/3.70), LHP Robbie Ross Jr. (3.76/2.91)
Long: RHP Clay Buchholz (5.68/5.62)

Kimbrel just returned a week or two ago from a torn meniscus. Ziegler and Abad came over at the trade deadline, and Buchholz … well he was so bad earlier this season that they had to take him out of the rotation. He’s been more effective in limited time as a reliever (3.32/2.97) than as a starter (6.31/6.33) this season.

The Red Sox had an off-day yesterday as they traveled home from the West Coast, so their bullpen is fresh. The Yankees had an off-day too, though they didn’t have to travel nearly as far. Both relief crews are in good shape going into the series. Makes sure you check out our Bullpen Workload page anyway.

2016 Trade Deadline Rumors Open Thread: Monday

Bye, Carlos? (Hannah Foslien/Getty)
Bye, Carlos? (Hannah Foslien/Getty)

The 2016 non-waiver trade deadline is 4pm ET this afternoon, and the Yankees have already been very active. One of the most active teams in baseball, really. Within the last week they traded Aroldis Chapman, traded Andrew Miller, and added Tyler Clippard. Chances are they aren’t done either.

“Stay tuned. A lot more things could happen,” said Brian Cashman to reporters during a conference call following the Miller and Clippard trades yesterday. “If you want to become a super team, there are ways you have to go about it. We’re trying to get back to a situation where we can build an uber-team, and a sustainable one.”

Here are Sunday’s rumors. Once again, we’re going to keep track of the day’s Yankee-related rumors right here in this post. I’m going to be running around a bit today — bad timing, I know, but family first — and will do my best to update things promptly. All time stamps are ET.

  • 9:00am: The Astros, Red Sox, Indians, and Rangers are all in on Carlos Beltran. He has not yet been asked to waive his limited no-trade clause and, unsurprisingly, a trade with Boston is considered unlikely. I’m sure the thought of Beltran helping the BoSox win the World Series makes ownership squeamish, even if it means making the best possible deal. Some clubs want the Yankees to eat money to facilitate a trade. [Buster Olney, Mark Feinsand, Jon Heyman]
  • 9:00am: The Yankees continue to listen to offers for Brian McCann, Brett Gardner, Nathan Eovaldi, and Michael Pineda. They also want to unload impending free agent Ivan Nova prior to today’s deadline. [Joel Sherman]
  • 12:03pm: McCann remains a possibility for the Braves. They want the Yankees to eat a bunch of money and the Yankees want good prospects in return, so there are some things that need to be worked out. [Mark Bowman]

Reminder before you comment: Your trade proposal sucks.

Yankeemetrics: The fork in the road [July 15-17]

(AP)
(AP)

Different half, same Yankees
Four days of rest did little to change the narrative of the Yankees’ 2016 season. The faint glimmer of hope that flickered after the Yankees notched a huge pre-break series victory over the AL Central-leading Indians was quickly extinguished as the Yankees suffered another depressing defeat, 5-3, to the Red Sox on Friday night.

The loss dropped the Yankees to 44-45, the first time they’ve had a sub-.500 record at any point after the All-Star break since 1995. That season, after losing to Mariners on September 5, the Yankees fell to 60-61 but then went 19-4 down the stretch to capture the AL Wild Card.

It was a familiar Jekyll-and-Hyde performance for Michael Pineda, who has been maddeningly inconsistent this entire season. He flashed some electric stuff in the first few innings as he retired the first eight batters, including four via strikeouts, but then fell apart.

He was undone by a few poorly located fastballs that the Red Sox crushed, resulting in three homers and five runs surrendered in five innings. Opponents have slugged .648 against his cut fastball, the highest slugging percentage allowed on a fastball (four-seam, two-seam, cut) by any pitcher in the majors (min. 150 batted balls).

Carlos Beltran’s two-run single in the sixth inning helped the Yankees avoid a shutout and marked a historic milestone for the 39-year-old as he became the fourth switch-hitter to with 1,500 career RBI (Eddie Murray, Chipper Jones, Mickey Mantle).

The hit also put Beltran in a select group of prolific run-producers who also possessed the key speed tool. He is just the fifth player in major-league history with at least 300 stolen bases and 1,500 RBI joining Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Willie Mays and Andre Dawson.

Sabathia sinking fast
Not even a matchup with the pitcher who owned the AL’s highest ERA (minimum five starts) could spark the Yankees anemic offense on Saturday afternoon.

Eduardo Rodriguez and his 8.59 ERA silenced the Yankee bats, who were held to two runs or fewer for the 35th time in 90 games this season in a 5-2 loss at the Stadium. That’s the Yankees’ most games of no more than two runs scored — at the 90-game mark — since the designated hitter rule was established in 1973.

sabathia long game 2
(Getty)

Despite his struggles this season, Rodriguez has a history of dominating the Yankees and now owns a 2.01 ERA in five career starts against them. He hasn’t given up more than two runs in each of those outings, the first Red Sox pitcher to post five straight starts with two runs or fewer against the Yankees in nearly five decades (Dave Morehead, 1965-68).

It was another ineffective outing by CC Sabathia, who continued his downward spiral with five runs allowed in five-plus innings. He’s now given up at least five runs in five straight starts, the first time he’s ever put together a streak like that in his career.

Opponents are crushing his sinker, slugging a ridiculous .633 off the pitch during this horrid five-game stretch, a 300-point increase from his first 11 starts of the season. The two-seamer has also lost its effectiveness as a weak-contact weapon for Sabathia: the pitch has a ground ball rate of just 28 percent in his last five outings compared to 49 percent in his first 11 games.

Feeling the heat in July
The Yankees avoided the sweep and kept the For Sale sign in the closet for at least another day as they beat the Red Sox, 3-1, on Sunday night. They overcame an early deficit to notch their 27th comeback win of the season — that’s a whopping 60 percent of their 45 total wins. Last year, only 46 percent (40 of 87) of their wins were of the come-from-behind variety.

Austin Romine plated the game-winning run with a two-out, tie-breaking RBI single in the fourth inning, but it was another masterful performance by Masahiro Tanaka that put the Yankees in position to end their post-break slump. Tanaka held the league’s most potent offense to just one run on three hits, striking out seven in six innings.

It’s hard to fathom where this team would be without Tanaka’s ace-like numbers this season:

  • He’s been consistently excellent at preventing runs: This was Tanaka’s 13th outing allowing two earned runs or fewer, tied with Chris Tillman and Aaron Sanchez for the most such starts among all AL pitchers this season.
  • He is at his best against the Yankees’ biggest rivals: Tanaka now has a 1.58 ERA in seven starts versus the AL East this season.
  • He is a streak-stopper: Tanaka improved to 4-1 with a 2.36 ERA in eight games following a Yankee loss this season.
  • He gives the team a chance to win every time: The Yankees are 14-5 in his starts and 31-41 when anyone else starts.

Tanaka’s been great.

7/15 to 7/17 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox

(Denis Poroy/Getty)
(Denis Poroy/Getty)

The All-Star break is finally over. The Yankees open the second half at home tonight, with the first of three against the Red Sox. The Yanks will play their next 13 games against contending teams (Red Sox, Orioles, Astros, Giants). This could be the stretch that pushes Hal Steinbrenner to join #TeamSell. The Yankees were swept in Fenway Park in April and won two of three from the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium in May.

What Have They Done Lately?

The BoSox swept the hapless Rays at home in the series prior to the All-Star break last weekend. They’ve won eight of their last eleven games overall. Boston is 49-38 with a +66 run differential on the season. They’re currently sitting in the top wildcard spot and are two games back of the Orioles in the AL East. The Yankees are 5.5 back of the Red Sox.

Offense & Defense

Manager John Farrell oversees the highest scoring offense in baseball. The Red Sox are averaging 5.63 runs per game with a team 117 wRC+, and both those numbers lead MLB by a lot. (Second place is 5.23 and 110, so yeah.) The Red Sox have four position players on the DL: 3B Pablo Sandoval, OF Chris Young, OF Blake Swihart, and IF Josh Rutledge. None will be back this series. Also, UTIL Brock Holt (90 wRC+) and 1B Hanley Ramirez (111 wRC+) were nursing day-to-day injuries at the end of the first half last weekend. I assume they’ll be good to go for this series.

Betts. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
Betts. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

When your offense works as well as Boston’s, you don’t screw around with the lineup too much. RF Mookie Betts (125 wRC+) leads off, 2B Dustin Pedroia (114 wRC+) bats second, SS Xander Bogaerts (129 wRC+) bats third, and DH David Ortiz (182 wRC+) cleans up. All but Pedroia were All-Stars. Hanley usually hits fifth with CF Jackie Bradley Jr. (140 wRC+) batting sixth. 3B Travis Shaw (102 wRC+) and Holt typically factor into the seventh and eighth spots somewhere.

Right now C Sandy Leon (213 wRC+ in limited time) and C Ryan Hanigan (25 wRC+) are sharing time behind the plate, and recent trade pickup IF Aaron Hill (103 wRC+) platoons at third with Shaw. Holt typically plays left and OF Bryce Brentz (98 wRC+ in limited time) is the extra outfielder. UTIL Michael Martinez (84 wRC+) is the other bench player. Boston’s bench is not good at all, which is why president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski went out added Hill last week.

The Red Sox are generally a sound defensive club up the middle with Pedroia, Bogaerts, and Bradley. Betts is solid in right as well. Shaw and Hanley are average at best in the corners — the more Shaw has played third, the more he’s gotten exposed — and Holt has a little Melky Cabrera in him in left field, meaning he makes plays look better than they are because his routes are so bad. Both Leon and Hanigan are good throwers.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7:05pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. BOS) vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (vs. NYY)
The Red Sox picked up Drew Pomeranz yesterday, but the Yankees won’t see him this series. He’s not scheduled to make his BoSox debut until Wednesday. Anyway, Rodriguez, 23, is Boston’s version of Luis Severino, meaning he’s the talented young hurler having a disappointing sophomore season after expectations were set oh so high. He’s pitched to a 8.59 ERA (6.59 FIP) in six starts and 29.1 innings for the Red Sox before being sent to Triple-A a few weeks ago. They’re actually calling him up from Pawtucket to make this start. Rodriguez hasn’t missed many bats (15.3 K%), hasn’t gotten grounders (30.8%), hasn’t kept the ball in the park (2.76 HR/9), and hasn’t kept walks to a minimum (8.8%). Both righties and lefties have hit him hard. During his brief time in the big leagues earlier this year, Rodriguez worked with a mid-90s four-seam fastball and in the upper-80s with his changeup. He also throws a mid-to-upper-80s cutter/slider thing, and it’s his clear third pitch. Rodriguez doesn’t have a reliable breaking ball at all. The Yankees did not face him in either series earlier this season.

Saturday (4:05pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. BOS) vs. RHP Steven Wright (vs. NYY)
Although he didn’t pitch in the actual game, the 31-year-old Wright was an All-Star this year, and why not? He leads the AL with a 2.68 ERA. His 3.64 FIP is very good too. Wright has the typical knuckleballer strikeout (19.8%) and walk (9.0%) rates, though he does get a lot of grounders (47.6%). His 0.55 HR/9 is insanely low both overall and by knuckleballer standards. Either Wright is the first knuckleballer in history to learn how to suppress homers, or he’s got a big statistical correction coming. His knuckler floats in around 73 mph, and his get-me-over fastball sits in the low-80s. I should note Wright uses his fastball more than most knuckleballers, around 16% of the time. Most knuckleballers are around 10%. He likes to surprise hitters with it in two-strike counts when they’re sitting knuckleball. The Yankees faced Wright in Yankee Stadium earlier this year and he held them to one run in nine innings, because of course he did.

Why do they call it a knuckleball if you throw it with your fingertips? (Maddie Meyer/Getty)
Why do they call it a knuckleball if you throw it with your fingertips? (Maddie Meyer/Getty)

Sunday (8:05pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. BOS) vs. LHP David Price (vs. NYY)
It wouldn’t be a Yankees-Red Sox/Blue Jays/Tigers/Rays series without Price getting a start. The 30-year-old is not having a good first season in Boston, posting a 4.34 ERA (3.42 FIP) in 19 starts and 124.1 innings. His strikeout (27.1%) and walk (5.2%) numbers are fantastic. His grounder (43.8%) and homer (1.16 HR/9) rates less so. Price has a small platoon split this season and has for a few years now. His stuff is the same as it’s always been: mid-90s four-seamers and sinkers, upper-80s cutters, mid-80s changeups, and the occasional upper-70s curveball. The Yankees have faced Price twice this season, and both times they scored six runs. They did it in seven innings the first time and 4.2 innings the second time.

Bullpen Status

Farrell’s club has suffered two pretty big blows recently. Closer RHP Craig Kimbrel (3.55 ERA/2.87 FIP) tweaked his knee during his pregame running right before the All-Star break, and wound up needing surgery to repair his meniscus. He’s going to be out 3-6 weeks. Setup man RHP Junichi Tazawa (3.62/3.73) was placed on the DL with a shoulder problem just yesterday. Here is Boston’s current bullpen:

Closer: RHP Koji Uehara (4.81/4.30)
Setup: RHP Brad Ziegler (2.75/3.33), RHP Matt Barnes (2.93/3.85)
Middle: LHP Robbie Ross Jr. (4.71/2.72), LHP Tommy Layne (3.60/3.42), RHP Heath Hembree (2.00/3.15)
Long: RHP William Cuevas (3.60/5.58)

Farrell confirmed Uehara will take over as closer while Kimbrel is out even though he’s not had a great season. Ziegler just came over from the Diamondbacks in a trade last week and is the ground ball specialist the Red Sox lost when Carson Smith blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. Layne is the lefty specialist and Ross is the full inning lefty.

Both bullpens are fresh thanks to the All-Star break. Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller did pitch in the All-Star Game on Tuesday though, so they’re not as fresh as everyone else. Shouldn’t be a problem though. Our Bullpen Workload page will tell you everything you need to know about Joe Girardi‘s recent reliever usage.

Drew Pomeranz trade shows why Yankees would be smart to sell at the deadline

(Sean M. Haffey/Getty)
(Sean M. Haffey/Getty)

The news broke yesterday afternoon and it was made official last night: the Red Sox traded top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza to the Padres for All-Star lefty Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz shut the Yankees down when they were in San Diego earlier this month. The BoSox are getting a 27-year-old southpaw who seems to be coming into his own with two and a half years of control left. Nice pickup.

I know there’s always a rush to judge trades and declare a winner, but this trade makes perfect sense to me for both teams. Sorry if that’s boring. The Padres are rebuilding and they turned a good pitcher with a limited track record into an excellent prospect. (Baseball America has Espinosa 15th in their midseason top 100.) The Red Sox are clearly all-in this season, and when you’re all-in, you trade the 18-year-old Single-A pitcher for the guy pitching at a high-level in the show. Anyway, I have some thoughts on this trade and what it means for the Yankees.

1. Holy cow is this a seller’s market. Drew Pomeranz is a very good pitcher. He was the fifth overall pick in 2010 and the center piece of the package that sent Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians. Once he got out of Coors Field, he had a 3.08 ERA (3.69 FIP) in 155 innings with the A’s. The talent has always been there. Pomeranz was held back by injuries and being juggled between the rotation and bullpen.

That all said, Pomeranz has a limited track record pitching at an All-Star level and he has a bit of an injury history. As good as he’s been this season, he’s not someone who changes the balance of power within a division like, say, Jose Fernandez. And yet, the Padres were still able to get an elite pitching prospect in return, albeit one far away from MLB. That’s because the upcoming free agent pitching market is so bad that anyone pitching decently with a few years of control remaining will be in demand. Prices are sky high right now.

Think about it. If two and a half years of Pomeranz fetch a top 15 prospect in baseball, what would two and a half years of Andrew Miller bring back? What about a year and a half of Michael Pineda or Nathan Eovaldi? The demand for power arms always exists. I’m not saying the Yankees can trade those guys for top 15 prospect, but clearly pitching help comes at a high price this year. The Pomeranz trade sets a high benchmark, and the Yankees should look to take advantage.

2. It pays to make moves early. The Padres are far out of the race and already in the middle of a rebuild, so trading Pomeranz was a matter of “when,” not “if.” Rather than wait until the deadline because that’s what teams usually do, they got out ahead of the market and made Pomeranz available when there weren’t many other pitchers out there being dangled in trades.

“(There were only) a couple pitchers available. I’m not sure you don’t take a greater risk by waiting (to make a trade),” said Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski during the trade conference call. It’s supply and demand, folks. The Red Sox had the demand for pitching and, at the time, the Padres were the only real team offering supply. They were able to get a big return because the BoSox didn’t have many alternatives.

The Yankees are still trying to get back into the race, which means no trades will happen anytime soon. (For what it’s worth, Wally Matthews reports the front office is ready to sell now, but ownership wants to hold off.) They’re going to wait instead. That’s a mistake in my opinion. The Yankees have given us no reason to think they’ll go on the kind of run necessary to get back into the race. The sooner they sell, the less competition they’ll have and the more they can seek in return.

3. The AL East is going to be that much tougher now. The Yankees are still trying to get back into the race, right? Well things just got a little tougher. One of the teams they’re chasing — not just in the AL East, but in the wildcard race — is the Red Sox, and the Red Sox just got better with Pomeranz. Pomeranz means fewer Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly and Henry Owens starts in the second half.

Our in-house projections at CBS say Pomeranz adds almost three wins to the BoSox the rest of the season over the crap they’ve been running out there every fifth day. That’s huge! (For what it’s worth, I feel our projections tend to be optimistic. Three wins in a half-season is a ton.) Point is, one of the Yankees’ direct competitors just got better, and that’s going to make life that much tougher for the Yankees. That’s even more reason to sell.

* * *

This is a seller’s market. We didn’t need the Pomeranz trade to tell us that. You could argue as many as 19 teams are in the race right now, including the Yankees, which means few sellers. The Yankees have some premium trade chips (Miller, Carlos Beltran, Aroldis Chapman) and high-end players are netting huge returns. They’d be foolish to keep them because of some long shot odds at contention.