Yankeemetrics: Birth of the Baby Bombers [Aug. 12-14]


Saying Bye-Rod
The Yankees made sure that Mr. Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez’s farewell game in pinstripes would be a memorable and winning one, as they sent the controversial slugger off into the sunset with an exhilarating comeback victory on Friday night against the Rays.

A-Rod’s final game with the Yankees (and perhaps his career) marks the final act of one of the most confounding and polarizing, yet also brilliantly talented, players in the history of this sport. Earlier this week we detailed a few of his many baseball superlatives; now here are two more numbers that put his complicated and fascinating tenure with the Yankee franchise into perspective.


Rodriguez enters the pinstripe record books with a batting line of .283/.378/.523 across 12 seasons in the Bronx. Among the hundreds of players that have compiled at least 200 plate appearances with the Yankees, only four others have reached each of those thresholds in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage: Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth.

Although A-Rod has frequently been chastised for his purported lack of clutch hitting in the playoffs, there is this stat to consider: A-Rod had four career game-tying or go-ahead hits in the ninth inning or later in the postseason, the most among all players in major-league history.

With the adrenaline pumping, A-Rod kicked off his last game in style, sending a 96 mph fastball from Chris Archer into right-center field for a first-inning RBI double. It was his first hit on pitch of more than 95 mph since June 7, a single off Angels reliever Cam Bedrosian.

Dellin Betances struck out the side in the ninth inning, recording his 100th, 101st and 102nd strikeouts of the season. This is the third year in a row he’s racked up at least 100 strikeouts, becoming the third reliever in American League history with back-to-back-to-back 100-K campaigns. The others are Dick Radatz (1962-65) and Duane Ward (1989-92), who both put together four-season streaks of at least 100 Ks.


New Kids in the Bronx
These are certainly not your father’s Yankees anymore. On Day One of the post-Alex Rodriguez Era, it was clear that the franchise’s much-hyped youth movement is in full swing.

The team called up highly-touted prospects Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge before Saturday’s afternoon contest and Joe Girardi immediately wrote their names on the lineup card, Judge in right field and Austin at first base. They were the first Yankee teammates to make their big-league debuts as starters in the same game since John Ellis and Jim Lyttle on May 17, 1969 against the Angels.

The two Baby Bombers wasted little time in earning their True Yankee pinstripes. Batting seventh and eighth, the duo electrified the Yankee Stadium crowd early with back-to-back solo homers in the second inning, fueling an offensive explosion that resulted in a fun-to-watch and rousing 8-4 win.

With those two blasts, Austin and Judge completed a stunning and unprecedented feat, becoming the first teammates in baseball history to each homer in their MLB debut in the same game. Before they went deep, only three other Yankees had ever homered in their first career at-bats in the bigs: Andy Phillips in 2004, Marcus Thames in 2002 (on the first pitch from Randy Johnson!) and John Miller in 1966.

Austin added a stolen base to his historic debut, becoming the first AL player to homer and steal in his first major-league game since Bert Campaneris (Kansas City A’s) in 1964; he is the only Yankee to accomplish the feat since at least 1913.

Starlin Castro, Aaron Hicks and Didi Gregorius soon joined the home run party on this hot and humid day, sending the ball over the fence in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings, respectively.

That gave the Yankees five players age 26 or younger with a longball, the first time in franchise history they’ve had that many under-27 guys go deep in the same game. Only three other teams have ever done this in the regular season over the past century: the 2016 Cubs, 2013 Astros and 1996 Brewers (the Cubs also did in Game 3 of the NLDS last year).

Even more impressively, each of the five youngsters also added another hit, making the Yankees the only MLB team in last 100 years to have five different players under the age of 27 with at least two hits and a homer in the same game.

Judge, jury and … homers!
The Yankees emotional ceremony-filled weekend ended with a thud on Sunday afternoon. They were creamed by the Rays, 12-3, snapping their four-game win streak and pushing them further back in the wild card race.

(USA Today Sports)
(USA Today Sports)

Luis Severino got hammered for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings, falling to 0-8 with a 8.58 ERA as a starter this season. That is the longest losing streak as a starter to begin a season by a Yankee since Fred Talbot lost his first eight starting decisions in 1968.

Even more depressing, the Yankees have still yet to win a game with Severino on the mound as the starting pitcher. Over last 100 years, this is the only time that the Yankees have lost the first nine games of a season started by a pitcher.

His fastball command was inconsistent and his changeup again was non-existent, though his slider was nasty at times, as he racked up seven strikeouts.

That bizarro performance produced a crazy pitching line that no major-league pitcher had recorded in nearly a decade. The last guy to allow at least seven earned runs and strike out at least seven batters in an outing of fewer than four innings pitched was Kenny Rogers in 2008 for the Tigers.

The lone highlights of the game were provided by the bats of the newly-christened Baby Bombers as Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez both homered in the loss. Judge became just the second player in franchise history to go deep in each of his first two major-league games, joining the immortal Joe Lefebvre (1980).

Sanchez’s two-run shot left his bat at 102 mph; he now has an average exit velocity of 91.6 mph this season, the highest among all Yankees with at least 10 batted balls in play.

Yankeemetrics: Surprising news, big wins [Aug. 5-7]


Tribute to Teix
The first stunning news conference of the weekend came just a couple hours before the opening game of this Yankees-Indians series, when Mark Teixeira announced that he will retire at the end of the 2016 season.

One of the defining numbers of Teixeira’s legacy is his unprecedented combination of power and defense, at a position where most players either excel in one of those two tools, but rarely both. Teixeira is the only first baseman with at least five Gold Gloves (awarded since 1957) and at least 400 homers.

Teixeira was also unique in that he produced at a high level right out the gate as a rookie, and showed impressive consistency during the prime years of his career. He reached the 25-homer mark in each of his first nine career seasons (2003-11), one of four players in major-league history to do that: Darryl Strawberry, Albert Pujols and Eddie Mathews are the others.

The next season he hit 38 homers and drove in 112 runs, kicking off an incredible eight-year run of 30-plus homers and 100-plus RBI. Among players that played at least 50 percent of their games at first base during the season, the only other guys to match that streak are Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx.

Teixeira was in the Bronx for less than a decade, but he still has a place alongside the all-time great first basemen to wear the pinstripes. He is one of three Yankee first baseman to compile at least 200 homers and 800 hits with the franchise. You might have heard of the others: Don Mattingly and Lou Gehrig.

Just hours after Teixeira’s emotional announcement, the Yankees took the field and produced one of their finest offensive performances of the season in routing the AL Central-leading Indians, 13-7.

Starlin Castro delivered the biggest blow of the game with his first career grand slam in the third inning. Thanks to that blast, Castro upped his batting average with the bases loaded this season to .429 (6-for-14 plus a sac fly), the second-highest in the majors among players with at least 15 plate appearances through Friday.


The letdown
The Yankees rollercoaster-like offense continued its up-and-down path, while another so-so performance from their starting pitcher doomed them in a 5-2 loss to the Indians on Saturday afternoon

Since the calendar flipped to August (and through Saturday), the Yankees game-by-game run totals have been as follows: 6, 1, 9, 1, 13, 2. For the season, that’s 44 games with two or fewer runs scored, by far the most among AL teams (no one else in the league even has 40 such games).

CC Sabathia retired the first 10 batters faced, but once again was victimized by the longball, giving up solo shots to Jason Kipnis in the fourth and Mike Napoli in the sixth inning. This was the third straight start that Sabathia has given up multiple homers, the first time in his career he’s done that.

After a shaky second inning during which he coughed up two runs, Corey Kluber dominated the Yankee lineup the rest of the way, facing the minimum number of batters over his final six innings while striking out eight batters. It was his third straight win over the Yankees, and in each of those games he’s given up no more than two runs and gotten at least eight strikeouts.

Only four other players in major-league history have fashioned such a streak — three straight games pitched with a win, eight-plus strikeouts and two or fewer runs allowed — versus the Yankees: Felix Hernandez (2010), Pedro Martinez (1999-00), Bob Feller (1946) and Lefty Grove (1926).


An A-bomb from A-Rod
For the second time in three days a shocking off-field news item grabbed the headlines in Yankeeland. Just hours before Sunday’s series finale, Alex Rodriguez and the team announced that the 41-year-old would play his final game on August 12 and then join the front office in a special advisor/instructor role.

A-Rod might be one of the most complicated and polarizing figures in baseball, but it’s hard to ignore his staggering (though tainted) statistical pedigree. He’s compiled numerous historic feats during his 22-season career, but most notably, he arguably possessed the best power/speed/run-producing combo tool of any hitter.

His 11 seasons of at least 100 RBI, 30 homers and 15 steals are the most all-time (and four more than anyone else), and he is the only player in major-league history with at least 2,000 RBI, 500 homers and 300 steals in a career.

Most people would agree that A-Rod’s signature moment in pinstripes was his incredible production during the Yankees’ 2009 World Series run. He hit .365/.500/.808 with six homers and 18 RBI, putting together one of the greatest single-postseason hitting lines in franchise history.

Among Yankees with at least 25 at-bats in a postseason, his 1.308 OPS ranks third behind only Mickey Mantle in 1960 (1.345) and Reggie Jackson in 1978 (1.315). Additionally, he is the only Yankee with more than five homers and more than 15 RBI in a single postseason.

There was still a game to be played after A-Rod’s announcement, and the Yankees once again rode the momentum of yet another tearful and emotional press conference, beating the Indians 3-2.

Masahiro Tanaka was masterful on the mound, scattering six hits across six innings while striking out eight and allowing just one run. He is now 5-1 with a 2.07 ERA in 10 starts following a Yankee loss. Among MLB pitchers with at least nine such starts this season, only Jacob deGrom (1.99) has a better ERA than Tanaka.

Tanaka’s final strikeout — the result of winning a 12-pitch battle with Lonnie Chisenhall to end the sixth inning — was also the 400th strikeout of his career. The only other Yankee to reach that milestone this early into his major-league career (67th game) was Al Downing.

Yankeemetrics: Playing for pride [Aug. 1-4]


With the white flag flying high in the Bronx, the Yankees ushered in a new era of pinstriped baseball on Monday night with a dramatic — and thoroughly fun-to-watch — win in 10 innings over the Mets. This was their first extra-inning win in the Subway Series since May 20, 2006 at Shea Stadium.

It was a back-and-forth battle with the Yankees erasing two deficits before finally edging the Mets with some rare clutch hitting. Trailing by two runs in the eighth inning, Didi Gregorius added another gold star to his stellar season with a two-out, game-tying two-run single.

That timely hit upped his batting average with runners in scoring position and two outs to a whopping .341, the sixth-best mark among all MLB players with at least 40 at-bats in that situation through Monday. It was also the first time in Didi’s career he delivered a two-out, game-tying/go-ahead RBI in the eighth inning or later.

Starlin Castro won the game with a tie-breaking, bases-loaded sacrifice fly to the warning track in the 10th inning. This was the first extra-inning sac fly hit by a player on either team in the history of the Mets-Yankees rivalry.

The Yankees overcame another disappointing effort from CC Sabathia, who allowed five runs before getting pulled in the sixth inning. It was the 33rd time a Yankee starter gave up at least five runs in a game this season; through Monday’s slate, no other team in baseball had more such starts by their pitchers than your 2016 Yankees.


The new reality
One day after one of the most inspiring and exciting games of the season, the Yankees responded with one of their all-too-familiar lackluster and boring performances on Tuesday night, losing in a rout, 7-1.

On paper, Masahiro Tanaka seemed poised to have a strong outing against the Mets. Not only had he already thrown a shutout at Citi Field in 2014, but he also was the owner of a 1.88 ERA in nine Interleague starts, the third-best ERA among active pitchers (min. 60 IP).

Instead, things went horribly wrong as Tanaka produced a dud, allowing a career-high seven earned runs. Entering this game, he was the only MLB pitcher in the 20-season history of Interleague play to throw a quality start in each of his first nine career Interleague appearances.

For the Mets, Jacob deGrom dominated the Yankees both on the mound and at the plate, tossing seven scoreless innings while going 2-for-3 with two runs scored. (Yes, the 28-year-old right-hander crossed home plate more times than the entire Yankee team.)

deGrom is the first pitcher with multiple hits and multiple runs in a game vs. the Yankees since Ken Brett (brother of George) on Oct. 2, 1972. The pitching Brett was actually a prolific hitter, who once homered in four straight games and finished with a .698 career OPS. That’s the second-best mark among pitchers who began their career after WWII (min. 300 PA), behind only Don Newcombe (.705).

Mark Teixeira reached a nice round-number milestone with his 400th double in the sixth inning. He is the only switch-hitter in major-league history to hit at least 400 doubles and 400 home runs within the first 14 seasons of his career.

New kids on the block
Wednesday’s contest quickly devolved into an unlikely slugfest and resulted in one of the wildest — if not bizarre — games of the season. The good news is that the ending was a happy one for the Yankees, who won 9-5 to move back above the .500 mark again.

Chad Green allowed the first five batters to reach base, including a leadoff homer by Curtis Granderson; he’s now given up eight homers in 18 innings as a starter and zero homers in 9 1/3 innings as a reliever.


It was also the sixth leadoff homer surrendered by Yankee pitchers this season, the third-most by a Yankee staff in the last 75 years. The only seasons with more were in 2001 (7) and 2014 (9).

The Yankees eventually rallied with Mark Teixeira delivering the decisive blow in the second inning with a tie-breaking three-run homer off the lefty Matz. It was Teixeira’s first homer from the right side of the plate since July 31 of last year.

In between those longballs — from August 1, 2015 through August 2, 2016 — Teixeira slugged .248 as a righty, the sixth-lowest slugging percentage among the 274 players with at least 100 plate appearances as a right-handed batter in that span.

Luis Severino was brilliant in relief of the struggling Green, taking over in the fourth and finishing his outing with just one unearned run allowed on one hit in 4 1/3 dominant innings. After the game, Joe Girardi praised Severino, noting that “his slider [was] better” and “his fastball command was better … Tonight was the best I’ve seen him.”

Severino’s postgame Pitch F/X numbers echo Girardi’s comments: his darting, mid-90s fastball got strikes nearly 70 percent of the time, and his wipeout slider got whiffs on half of the 10 cuts that the Mets took against it. That was his highest slider swing-and-miss rate in any game where he’s thrown at least 15 sliders.

One is not enough
A 4-1 loss on Thursday night gave the Yankees a split in this four-game series against the Mets, an outcome that is very fitting for this Yankees team that has mastered the art of being .500 this season. They’re now 54-54 overall, which includes 44-44 before the break, 10-10 since the break, 13-13 in July and 2-2 in August.

This was the 25th time this season that the Yankees have scored one run or fewer, the most such games among all major-league teams entering the weekend slate.

Nathan Eovaldi‘s dinger problem reared its ugly head again on Thursday night, allowing his 22nd and 23rd homers of the season in the fifth inning. His rate of 1.67 homers per nine innings this year would be the worst in franchise history for any Yankee pitcher that qualified for the ERA title in a non-strike season. It was also his eighth game in 2016 giving up two or more homers, the most among all major-league pitchers.

Bartolo Colon enjoyed his return to the Bronx as he silenced the Yankee bats, surrendering just one run on five hits in 6 2/3 innings. The 43-year-old righty is the oldest pitcher ever to beat the Yankees at Yankee Stadium while pitching at least six innings and allowing no more than one run.

Yankeemetrics: Raise or lower the white flag? [July 25-27]

Be Like Mike. (Photo: Getty)
Be Like Mike. (Photo: Getty)

No Chapman, no problem
Despite making their first significant “sell” trade-deadline move in more than two and a half decades, the Yankees continued to remain on the fringes of the playoff race with a 2-1 win over the Astros on Monday.

With the win, the Yankees moved to three games above .500 for the first time this season. This is the deepest into the season they’ve gone without reaching that mark since 1991, when they never got more than a game above .500 the entire season. They finished that forgettable campaign with a 71-91 record, their fifth-worth winning percentage in franchise history.

A victory did not look promising less than a minute after Michael Pineda took the mound in the bottom of the first inning; George Springer deposited the first pitch into the right-field seats for a quick 1-0 Astros lead.

It was the first time a Yankee allowed a first-pitch homer to the first batter of the game since the Jose Reyes took Hiroki Kuroda deep in Toronto on June 25, 2014, and just the 11th occurrence since pitch data became available in 1988. Of the 10 other instances, the only other Yankee pitcher who allowed no other runs besides that leadoff homer — like Pineda — was Jack McDowell on July 13, 1995 versus the Twins.

Austin Romine played the unlikely role of hero with a tie-breaking RBI double in the eighth inning. That was the first career go-ahead hit in the eighth inning or later for the backup catcher, who is hitting a robust .375 (12-for-32) with runners in scoring position this season, the best mark on the team through Monday.

Milestone alerts! Carlos Beltran’s double leading off the seventh inning was the 524th of his career, passing one Hall-of-Famer (Willie Mays) and moving into a tie for 44th place with another Hall-of-Famer (Ken Griffey Jr.). Up next is Ted Williams with 525 doubles.

Chase Headley’s game-tying single in the fifth inning was his 1,147th career hit, breaking the major-league record for most hits by a Colorado-born player. He surpassed Roy Hartzell, a Golden, CO native who played 11 seasons with the St. Louis Browns (1906-10) and the Yankees (1911-16). According to a 1914 New York Times article, Hartzell was the “handiest utility man the Yankees ever had…he has played every position on the club except battery positions.”

That was easy. (Photo: AP)
That was easy. (Photo: AP)

All aboard the win train
The Yankees sure are making it tough for Prince Hal to push the SELL! button. For a team that’s defined inconsistency, they’ve somehow caught an incredible wave of positive momentum at the most critical juncture of the season, beating the Astros again on Tuesday night. It was another comeback win fueled by dominant starting pitching, some timely hitting and a shutdown back-of-the-bullpen performance.

CC Sabathia posted his best start in more than a month, giving up two runs on four hits while pitching into the seventh inning. He snapped a six-game winless streak during which he allowed at least four runs in each outing. That matched the longest such streak of his career, which he also did in 2002.

Although Sabathia had posted an ugly 7.46 ERA in his previous six turns, it wasn’t like he was getting crushed every night. He still entered Tuesday’s game with the lowest average exit velocity allowed (85.8 mph) among pitchers with at least 200 batted balls in play, and then nearly matched that number against the Astros (86.8).

Dellin Betances pulled off another crazy Houdini act, getting out of a two-out bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning to help seal the win. Hitters are just 2-for-27 (.074) with ducks on the pond against Betances in his career, the second-lowest batting average allowed in that situation among active pitchers (min. 25 at-bats), behind only Pirates lefty Tony Watson (.069).

Aces down
The Yankees desperate playoff push hit a speed bump on Wednesday night as the Yankees squandered a golden opportunity to move within three games of the second Wild Card spot after losing to the Astros, 4-1.

Still, even with the disappointing defeat, the Yankees are 11-5 (.688) all-time at Minute Maid Park, their third-highest winning percentage at any ballpark, behind only Atlanta’s Turner Field (.857, 12-2) and Minnesota’s Target Field (.760, 19-6).

Rotation ace Masahiro Tanaka — who entered the game with a league-leading 1.50 ERA in nine road starts — allowed four runs in five innings and lost for just the third time in 21 starts this season.

The loss also snapped a streak of seven straight Yankee wins in games started by Tanaka, the team’s longest such streak since winning 12 games in a row with Ivan Nova (!) on the mound in 2011. Tanaka has now been tagged for 10 runs and 14 hits in 10 career innings at Minute Maid Park.

Prior to Tanaka’s sub-par performance, Yankee pitchers had allowed just 17 runs in their previous 10 games, their best 10-game stretch of run prevention since July 1998.

Brian McCann drove in the lone Yankee run in the fourth inning with his 15th home run. This is the 11th time in his career he’s hit than many homers in a season, a feat matched by only seven other catchers in MLB history: Carlton Fisk, Johnny Bench, Mike Piazza, Lance Parrish, Yogi Berra, Jorge Posada and Gary Carter.

Trade Deadline Notes: Nats, Sabathia, Blue Jays, Pineda


The trade deadline is now only nine days away, and according to FanGraphs, the Yankees have a 9.6% chance to make the postseason. That’s not very good. Buster Olney (video link) said yesterday Aroldis Chapman could be dealt as soon as this weekend, though I’m not sure I buy that. “The Yankees are playing it smart and will likely take it to the end to get the most,” said an official with another team to George King. Here are the latest trade rumblings.

Nats make top prospects off-limits

Despite their interest in Chapman, Barry Svrluga reports the Nationals will not trade top prospects Lucas Giolito, Trea Turner, Victor Robles, or Reynaldo Lopez for the hard-throwing lefty. Every team says they’re unwilling to trade their top prospects this time of year, so I wouldn’t make too much of this. It’s just posturing.

If the Nationals are serious about getting Chapman (or Andrew Miller), they’ll have to put one of those guys on the table. Lopez seems most likely, mostly because he’s the lowest rated prospect of the bunch. He’s not bad — Baseball America had him 48th in their midseason top 100 — the other guys are just really, really good. Based on what Miller fetched two years ago, I think Lopez would be a fair return for Chapman.

Blue Jays scouted Sabathia

The Blue Jays had a scout watching CC Sabathia‘s most recent start, reports Jon Heyman. George King says the Astros, Mets, Marlins, and Cubs also had scouts on hand Thursday. It’s worth noting Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro was in the Indians’ front office all those years Sabathia was in Cleveland, including most as GM. There’s a bit of a connection there.

We heard Sabathia has been drawing some interest the other day, though I have a hard time believing it’s serious interest. I’m guessing it’s more “if you eat a ton of money we’ll take him off your hands” interest. Also, an intradivision trade with the Blue Jays probably isn’t happening, even though you could argue trading Sabathia to an AL East rival would be good for the Yankees.

Giants, Astros, Cubs among teams to scout Pineda

The Giants, Astros, Cubs, and “a ton” of others were on hand to see Michael Pineda‘s most recent start, report Jon Morosi and Chris Cotillo. Pineda had his first scoreless start of the season Wednesday, and he had maybe his nastiest slider of the season too. As Katie pointed out in Yankeemetrics, Pineda generated 18 swings and misses with his slider that game, the most by any pitcher in baseball in 2016.

The Yankees are at the point where they have to figure out what they want to do with Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi. Do they want to keep them long-term? If so, they should start thinking about extensions. If they don’t want them long-term, then they should trade them soon to get as much back as possible. I understand waiting and hoping they rebuild value in the second half, but I think it’s more likely they’ll lose value going forward between the injury risk and being closer to free agency.

Trade Deadline Notes: Lopez, Nats, Giants, Rangers, Gallo

Lopez. (Mitchell Layton/Getty)
Lopez. (Mitchell Layton/Getty)

The Yankees have won six of their last nine games, and during that time they’ve gained exactly zero games in wildcard race. Not one. They’re still five games back, though now there’s only three teams ahead of them instead of six. Yay? Here’s the latest batch of trade deadline rumors.

Yankees scouted Lopez, others Tuesday

Vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring was at Nationals Park last night to scout rookie right-hander Reynaldo Lopez and other players, reports George King. Lopez got knocked around in his MLB debut, allowing six runs on ten hits and a walk in 4.2 innings, but he did strike out nine. Baseball America ranked him 48th in their midseason top 100 update, and Lopez has long been speculated as a possible center piece for an Aroldis Chapman or Andrew Miller trade.

The only other notable young players to play in last night’s Nationals-Dodgers game were Joc Pederson and Trea Turner. I’d be surprised if the Dodgers traded Pederson. Turner though? He could definitely be a trade chip with Washington so committed to Danny Espinosa at short (and prospect Wilmer Difo on the way). Turner went 1-for-4 with a two-run triple and a strikeout last night. Here’s video of the triple. For what it’s worth, Lopez strikes me as way more available than Turner.

Giants lingering in Chapman, Miller race

The Giants continue to linger in the Chapman/Miller market according to Jerry Crasnick, though they might be outbid by other clubs with more young talent to offer. San Francisco is focusing on other relievers for the time being, including Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith of the Brewers, and Jeanmar Gomez and David Hernandez of the Phillies.

As I said a few weeks ago, it’s hard to find a match between the Yankees and Giants because the Giants don’t have a great farm system. Most of their top prospects are either having down years or are far away from MLB. And even if San Francisco was willing to trade off their big league roster, who could they offer? Joe Panik or Matt Duffy? That ain’t happening. The Giants want to add to their MLB team, not subtract from it.

Yankees “intrigued” by Gallo, Rangers scouting Yanks

(Kyle Rivas/Getty)
(Kyle Rivas/Getty)

The Rangers have been scouting the Yankees for several weeks now, according to Evan Grant and George King. They’ve specifically been looking at Miller, Chapman, Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova, Nathan Eovaldi, and even CC Sabathia. Texas had trusted scout Russ Ardolina at Yankee Stadium on Monday to see Nova. The big three relievers pitched that game too. The Rangers need all sorts of pitching help and the Yankees have a bunch to offer.

King says the Yankees are “intrigued” by dinger mashing prospect Joey Gallo, and Grant says that while Gallo isn’t untouchable, it’s going to take a lot to get him. Texas turned down Gallo for Drew Pomeranz, for example. There are concerns about Gallo’s ability to make consistent contact against MLB caliber arms, but he has true 80 power on the 20-80 scouting scale, the kind that will produce 40 bombs in any park even if he hits .230. He’s also a good defender at third base, so while he’s a flawed player, Gallo has a chance to a middle of the order force long-term.

Rosenthal: CC Sabathia drawing trade interest

(Adam Hunger/Getty)
(Adam Hunger/Getty)

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees are drawing trade interest in some of their starting pitchers, including veteran lefty CC Sabathia. That’s a sentence I never thought I would write coming into this season. CC has been using a new knee brace and a new cutter this year, plus he’s sober now, all of which are reasons he may be more effective going forward than he was from 2013-15.

Sabathia, 35, has a very respectable 3.94 ERA (3.97 FIP) in 93.2 innings this season after the Yankees made him compete for a rotation spot in Spring Training. He started the season very well but has crashed hard of late, allowing at least five runs in each of his last five starts. Some home run regression was inevitable — it still is, probably (0.67 HR/9 and 7.0 HR/FB%) — and it’s arrived. I have some thoughts on Sabathia as a trade candidate.

1. The interest probably isn’t all that serious. Sabathia is very well respected around the league for all he’s accomplished and his willingness to give everything he has to his team and teammates. He pitches hurt, he pitches on short rest, he does whatever is needed. It’s admirable. Teams wish they had 25 guys like Sabathia in the clubhouse.

Despite that, I don’t think any club is serious about acquiring Sabathia because his on-field value is so small. He was both hurt and terrible from 2013-15, and based on his last five starts, his early season success this year may have been a mirage. Also, Sabathia’s vesting option complicates things. Either the $25M option is going to vest, or he’s going to hurt his shoulder in the second half and be no help. That’s a lose-lose for the acquiring team.

My guess is any trade discussions involving Sabathia have gone like this:

Other GM: “Hey Brian, are you open to trading CC?”
Cashman: “We’re open to trading anyone. What are you offering?”
Other GM: “We’ll give you a middling prospect if you eat 80% of what’s left on his contract.”

Other teams will take Sabathia if the Yankees are willing to pay down a ton of his contract, otherwise it doesn’t make sense to acquire him. It would be a straight salary dump, a la A.J. Burnett to the Pirates or Josh Hamilton to the Rangers (the second time). Sabathia’s a sunk cost. The Yankees have to pay him anyway. At least a salary dump trade would save a little cash and free up a rotation spot for a younger arm.

Of course, that also means the Yankees would have to replace Sabathia’s innings, which might not be a huge deal. They have Chad Green and Luis Cessa in Triple-A, not to mention Luis Severino, so there are arms available. The Yankees would just have to monitor workloads later in the season. September call-ups will make that a little easier.

2. Sabathia has complete control of the situation. It doesn’t matter what Sabathia’s contract says at this point. He has full no-trade protection through his ten-and-five rights, so he’s in total control here. If he doesn’t want to be traded, he won’t be traded. It’s pretty simple. Sabathia and his family live in New Jersey year-round now, so he might not want to go anywhere else. I wouldn’t blame him. It’s pretty awesome here.

We’ve speculated countless times over the years that Sabathia may be willing to accept a trade to go home to the Bay Area, where he grew up, though who knows if that’s true. We can rule the Athletics out immediately. Doesn’t make sense for Sabathia to go there and it doesn’t make sense for the A’s to bring him in. That leaves the Giants, who are very much in contention and need a fifth starter with Matt Cain unable to stay healthy.

Sabathia seems like a classic “trade deadline pickup to World Series hero for the Giants” move. Doesn’t that seem like a thing that could happen? It does to me. Sabathia would be home, but not home home with his family, and who knows if the Giants are even interested. I’m not sure putting the big man in the pitchers have to hit league is such a good idea at this point given his knee.

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Rosenthal says there’s been interest in Sabathia and there’s no reason to doubt his reporting. That doesn’t mean there’s serious interest though. Teams may have checked in just in case the Yankees were open to eating a ton of money, and Sabathia’s not really the kind of guy you eat a ton of money to move. He’s a leader in the clubhouse and he has value as an innings eater, even on a bad team. Sabathia doesn’t fit into the #TeamSell plan.