DotF: Wagaman homers twice in Pulaski’s season opener

Here are the day’s notes:

  • The Yankees called up LHP Tyler Webb, they announced earlier today. UTIL Rob Refsnyder was sent down to clear a roster spot. Webb, the team’s tenth round pick in 2013 and LHP Jordan Montgomery‘s former college teammate, spent nearly all of the last four seasons with Triple-A Scranton. Cool to see him get the call. Webb has a 3.24 ERA (2.14 FIP) with 47 strikeouts and only three walks in 33.1 innings this season.
  • SS Gleyber Torres told Conor Foley and D.J. Eberle he is heading to Tampa on Saturday following yesterday’s Tommy John surgery. He’ll rest the next two weeks before beginning rehab work. Apparently Torres was told he could be ready to play by November, which means winter ball could be in play, though I don’t see that happening. The Yankees won’t push their top prospect. Gleyber said he’s focused on Spring Training.
  • C Kyle Higashioka has been placed on the 7-day DL, the RailRiders announced. Foley says Higashioka is dealing with bad lower back spasms. He was supposed to see a doctor today, and if they’re calling it spasms, I guess that means there’s no structural damage. That’s good.
  • No Triple-A Scranton players lead their positions in the All-Star Game fan voting. Here’s the update. RHP Chance Adams does lead the write-in votes, however. Lehigh Valley fans are really stuffing the ballot, it seems. Voting ends tomorrow. Here’s the ballot.
  • Two links to check out: Chris Crawford asked executives whether they’d take the Yankees farm system or the Braves farm system, and Jim Callis listed OF Clint Frazier as a potential impact prospect for the second half.

Triple-A Scranton (11-1 with over Pawtucket)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 1-5, 1 2B, 1 K, 1 SB
  • DH Tyler Austin: 2-5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 K — three straight games with a homer … here’s video of the double and home run
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 1-4
  • RF Jake Cave: 2-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI — four homers in his last six games
  • LF Mark Payton: 3-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI — some team’s future fourth outfielder is hitting .293/.350/.421 on the season
  • RHP Chance Adams: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 5/5 GB/FB — 60 of 100 pitches were strikes … has a 43.7% ground ball rate this year, which is pretty terrible for a good pitching prospect in the minors … the book on him is that he doesn’t get great downhill plane on his fastball (he’s only 6-foot-1) and his heater can be pretty straight … I worry that when he comes up, he’ll initially be really home run prone, especially with the ball flying out of the park all around the league this season
  • RHP Ben Heller: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 19 of 30 pitches were strikes (63%)

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DotF: Staten Island wins opener; Tate returns in Tampa’s win

Some notes to get us started:

  • SS Gleyber Torres is having his Tommy John surgery tomorrow, according to Bryan Hoch. Mets team doctor Dr. David Atlchek will perform the surgery. See you in the spring, Gleyber.
  • 3B Nelson Gomez is listed as suspended on the Staten Island Yankees roster for some reason. Not sure what happened there. He didn’t fail a drug test or anything like that. Those are announced by MLB. Must have violated team rules.
  • RHP Travis Hissong has been released, the Tampa Yankees announced. Hissong had been with the Yankees since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He threw some innings as an extra arm in Spring Training this year.

Triple-A Scranton Game One (4-3 loss to Syracuse in seven innings)

  • 2B Tyler Wade & C Kyle Higashioka: both 0-3 — Higashioka struck out twice
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K — 12 homers in 64 games this year after hitting 12 in 132 games last year … getting out of Trenton is a part of it, no doubt, but not all of it
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 0-2, 1 BB
  • LF Jake Cave: 1-2, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB — three homers in his last eight games
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 4.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 7/0 GB/FB — 43 of 67 pitches were strikes (64%) … he’s thrown 56, 60, and 67 pitches in his last three starts, which is weird … they’re not really stretching him out much
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 22 of 34 pitches were strikes (65%)

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Thoughts following Gleyber Torres’ Tommy John surgery news

Gleybaby :( (Scranton Times Tribune)
Gleybaby :( (Scranton Times Tribune)

Over the weekend, top prospect Gleyber Torres managed to tear the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow on a play at the plate. He will have season-ending Tommy John surgery. It sucks so much. Sooo much. The injury combined with the disaster West Coast road trip make this one of the worst weeks in recent Yankees history. No doubt about it. Anyway, I have some thoughts on the injury and the fallout.

1. If this injury comes with a silver lining, it’s this: the injury is to Gleyber’s non-throwing elbow, and he’s a position player. The Tommy John surgery rehab timetable for position players is usually 6-8 months, not the 14-16 months it is for pitchers nowadays. The Yankees say they expect Torres to be ready in time for Spring Training — the Arizona Fall League or winter ball isn’t going to happen though — and that isn’t aggressive at all. There is always risk with surgery and the lost development time shouldn’t be ignored. Torres is going to lose 300 or so plate appearances and he’ll never get them back. At the end of the day, this is a severe injury, but it is also fairly straightforward and correctable. And he is only 20. It’s not like he’s 25 or 26.

2. A torn elbow ligament and Tommy John surgery is pretty darn common these days, though the way Torres tore his ligament is pretty unique. When’s the last time someone blew out their elbow on a slide? Heck, when’s the last time someone blew out their non-throwing elbow? Usually the ligament tears during a throw, even with position players. I can’t remember ever hearing of a player tearing his elbow ligament on an impact play like a slide into home plate. Weird. Torres must have really come down on that elbow hard, huh? Or maybe the ligament was already frayed and on the verge of tearing, and the slide was the straw that broke the camel’s back. At the end of the day, it was a fluke injury suffered during a fairly common baseball play. It’s just weird that it resulted in this injury.

3. As good as he is — and Torres is insanely talented — probably the biggest weakness in his game right now is his baserunning. He’s overly aggressive and it leads to a lot of pickoffs and outs on the bases. There were a few of them back in Spring Training. Torres would push the envelope when he shouldn’t have, and the result was an out. Not a fatal flaw! A correctable flaw through experience. Here’s the slide that resulted in the injury:

That’s not a headfirst slide. That’s more of an awkward feet first slide with an arm extended. Perhaps the awkwardness of the slide contributed to the injury. I mean, it almost certainly did. Torres plays with a lot of energy and you’d hate to take that aggressiveness away from him. Pushing the envelope is a good thing (at times). But, in this case, that aggressiveness combined with crummy slide fundamentals led to an injury. Gleyber’s baserunning issues resulted in something much worse than an out this time.

4. Interestingly enough, after Torres got hurt Triple-A Scranton manager Al Pedrique told Amy Moritz the Yankees teach their players not to slide headfirst. Headfirst slides are too dangerous. Here’s what Pedrique told Moritz before the torn ligament was discovered:

“It’s one thing that we teach as an organization, try not to have the guys slide head-first, any base and especially home plate because of all the gear the catcher has on,” Pedrique said. “When I saw the slide it was a concern and then afterwards when I saw him stay on the ground, definitely it was a scary moment for everybody. He came back from the hospital. Everything’s normal. So from that end, we’re very excited he didn’t get hurt worse. Again, that’s one thing we try to tell the player and teach them how to slide. But in the moment of the game, the competition, sometimes they don’t use the information to slide feet-first.”

“Injuries are part of the game but if we can avoid one like that one, we’re going to do the best we can to make sure they understand the reason why we don’t like the head-first slide,” Pedrique said. “He’s a young guy. He has a long way to learn about a lot of things in the game but he has a lot of talent and again thank God he didn’t get hurt worse.”

Mike Trout tore ligaments in his thumb during a headfirst slide a few weeks ago. Feet first slides are dangerous too! Everything in baseball is inherently dangerous. Former Yankees prospects David Adams and Ravel Santana suffered catastrophic ankle injuries on feet first slides and were never the same. But there are so many tiny bones and ligaments in your hands. Players are bigger and faster than ever before, and when you hit that bag with all that force, it can be easy to break or tear those little bones or ligaments. I’m guessing the Yankees are not the only team trying to teach their players to avoid headfirst slides, and I’m glad they’re doing it. Sometimes the player’s instincts take over and they go in with their hands though.

5. I absolutely believe the Yankees were planning to call Torres up at some point, possibly soon after the All-Star break. They promoted him quickly from Double-A and there’s been chatter they were grooming him to take over at third base. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Gleyber still needed to improve his defense at third before getting called up, but I think he would have gotten comfortable there fairly soon. He made a remarkable amount of process this season otherwise. Now a call-up is completely off the table. Even if you didn’t love the idea or weren’t sold on Torres being a short-term upgrade at third base, the option existed. Now it doesn’t. That bites. I thought Torres would be up at some point in the second half and help right away. Not like Gary Sanchez helped last year, but enough.

6. So, with that in mind, the Yankees are probably going to ramp up their search for third base help. I’m not 100% convinced they’ll buy at the trade deadline, but they will do their due diligence. Chase Headley has settled in following an uneven start to the season. He hit .251/.329/.383 (92 wRC+) last year and he’s at .249/.329/.364 (86 wRC+) this year. This is pretty much who he’ll be going forward. It’s one thing to sit Headley for a top prospect like Torres. It’s another to sit him for a veteran you pick up in a trade. Guys like Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie might not be enough of an upgrade to sacrifice the prospects. Mike Moustakas would be a different story, though the Royals have climbed back into the race, so he might not be available now. Furthermore, teams know Torres is a non-option now, so the Yankees doesn’t have much leverage. That top prospect they could call up instead of trading for your guy isn’t available. Right now, my guess is Headley will be the third baseman the rest of the season. I didn’t think that was the case before the Torres injury.

7. All things considered, the injury is worse news for Torres than the Yankees. He was maybe weeks away from making his big league debut, and now he’ll have to wait until at least next season, maybe longer if the Yankees decide to be be cautious after surgery. The Yankees aren’t losing anyone off their big league roster — I personally thought Torres would get called up, but it was not set in stone — and they’re not losing a trade chip either because Torres is presumably atop their untouchables list. Tommy John surgery for position players has an extremely high success rate — the only position players to have a real hard time with the rehab are catchers, who use their arms so much — and Torres didn’t even hurt his throwing elbow. The injury bites because Torres will miss so much development time. That’s baseball. Players get hurt but there’s still another game to play tonight. The division title ain’t gonna win itself. Onward.

Gleyber Torres will undergo Tommy John surgery

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The season is over for Gleyber Torres. The Yankees announced this afternoon that their top prospect, and one of the best prospects in baseball, will soon undergo Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. Torres tore his ulnar collateral ligament when he hyper-extended his elbow on a play at the plate over the weekend.

Here is video of the play:

Initial x-rays came back negative, but additional tests Monday showed the ligament tear. I suppose the silver lining here is that the injury is not to his throwing elbow. Torres is expected to be ready to go in time for Spring Training. The Tommy John surgery rehab timetable for position players is much shorter than it for pitchers.

Torres, 20, came over from the Cubs in the Aroldis Chapman trade last summer. He hit .287/.383/.480 (142 wRC+) with 14 doubles, seven homers, a 20.0% strikeout rate, and a 12.8% walk rate in 55 games and 235 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A this season.

Reports indicated the Yankees were planning to call up Torres later this season to take over at third base, though obviously that is off the table now. Baseball, man, It can be a real son of a bitch. Get well soon, Gleyber.

DotF: Sheffield, Andujar lead Trenton to doubleheader sweep

As expected, SS Gleyber Torres was placed on the Triple-A Scranton disabled list today, the team announced. He hyper-extended his elbow on a play at the plate yesterday. X-rays came back negative, so that’s good, though Torres will have more tests tomorrow.

Triple-A Scranton (2-0 win over Buffalo in seven innings) completed early due to rain

  • SS Tyler Wade: 1-4, 1 E (throwing) — hitting streak is up to 18 games
  • LF Dustin Fowler & DH Clint Frazier: both 0-3 — Fowler scored a run
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 0-2, 1 RBI
  • CF Jake Cave: 2-3, 1 2B
  • LHP Caleb Smith: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 7/6 GB/FB — 58 of 84 pitches were strikes (69%)

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The Yanks are reportedly looking for a third baseman because Chase Headley isn’t giving them much of a choice

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

At some point soon, perhaps tomorrow, the Yankees will get some help at first base. Their first basemen have hit a combined .162/.275/.288 (32 OPS+) so far this season, which is easily the worst production from the position in baseball. Thankfully both Tyler Austin and Greg Bird are on minor league rehab assignments, and Austin could be activated very soon. Bird shouldn’t be too far behind.

Third base is another matter. Everyone is healthy and the Yankees have still received a .223/.292/.330 (68 OPS+) batting line from the position. And that’s with Chase Headley‘s amazing April. He’s crashed hard these last six or seven weeks. It’s actually pretty amazing the Yankees are in first place with the second best run differential in the league despite getting so little from the corner infield positions.

Anyway, according to Nick Cafardo, the Yankees are in the market for a new third baseman. “The Yankees are shopping for a third baseman, according to major league sources,” says Cafardo’s one-sentence report. We’ve already heard the Yankees are grooming Gleyber Torres to take over at the hot corner this year, and now we’re hearing they’re looking for outside help. Let’s talk about this.

1. Does this pass the sniff test? The important question with every rumor. Yes, this one passes the sniff test. Headley has been terrible and it’s only logical that the Yankees would look for an upgrade, especially since they’re in contention. Maybe if they were having the down rebuilding year many expected, they wouldn’t worry about it too much and ride things out with Headley until Torres or whoever was ready. That isn’t the case though. Third base is a major weakness for a first place team, and that first place team is looking for help.

2. What are the conditions? Now, that all said, I don’t think the Yankees are going to go all out for third base help. They’re still identifying themselves as a team in transition with a focus on getting younger. Also, the plan to get under the luxury tax threshold soon (i.e. 2018) is still very much in place. That means these two statements are very likely true:

  1. The Yankees are not going to take on a sizeable multi-year contract.
  2. The Yankees aren’t going to trade any of their top prospects.

There are always exceptions — I don’t think they’d run away if, say, the Mariners made Kyle Seager available — though for the most part, I think those two statements are true. The Yankees are not going to trade their best prospects and they’re not going to jeopardize the plan to get under the luxury tax threshold. Other considerations like handedness (a lefty would help balance the lineup) and hitting style (high strikeout vs. high contact, etc.) are secondary.

3. So who’s available? Alright, let’s get down to business. The Yankees reportedly want a new third baseman, so would could be available? The best place to start is always with the last place teams since they’re most likely to sell, though I get the sense the Blue Jays won’t be open to trading Josh Donaldson to the Yankees. Here is a preliminary list of third base trade candidates, listed alphabetically:

  • Todd Frazier, White Sox: A solid defender and he’ll be a free agent after the season, which fits the luxury tax plan, but he’s also hitting .195/.306/.396 (88 wRC+). Name value > actual production.
  • David Freese, Pirates: Hitting .258/.361/.411 (109 wRC+) this year with his usual okay-ish defense. Freese is owed a reasonable $4.25M next year with a $6M option for 2019.
  • Jed Lowrie, Athletics: Lowrie, a switch-hitter, was a regular third baseman as recently as 2015, and he’s hitting .293/.360/.483 (132 wRC+). His contract includes a $6M option for 2018. Hmmm.
  • Mike Moustakas, Royals: Almost certainly the best third baseman likely to be available. He’s a rental, he’s hitting .255/.295/.510 (109 wRC+), and he can play the hell out of the hot corner.
  • Martin Prado, Marlins: Currently on the DL with a nagging hamstring issue that has limited him to only 17 games this year. Prado is owed $28.5M from 2018-19, which is a bit of a problem.
  • Trevor Plouffe, Athletics: Meh. Another rental, so that’s good, but Plouffe is hitting .216/.278/.351 (71 wRC+) and has been trending downward for a while now. Plus he’s a crummy defender.
  • Yangervis Solarte, Padres: Never Nervous Yangervis is hitting .250/.329/.353 (86 wRC+) while primarily playing second base this year. He’s due $4.125M next year with club options for 2019 ($5.5M) and 2020 ($8M).

So that’s the list for now. Things can and will change in the coming weeks as teams fall out of the race/get back into it, players get hurt, rookies emerge, that sort of thing. I’d say Freese and Prado are the least likely players on that list to be traded before the deadline.

The way I see it, Frazier is the big name, Moustakas is the best player, and Lowrie is the most sensible target. The Yankees might be able to pry Lowrie loose without trading one of their top ten prospects, and he wouldn’t threaten the luxury tax plan since this is the final guaranteed year on his contract. Both Ken Rosenthal and Susan Slusser say the A’s are likely to trade him. Hmmm indeed.

Moose tacos. (Brian Blanco/Getty)
Moose tacos. (Brian Blanco/Getty)

4. Whither Headley? Okay, so the Yankees go out and get a new third baseman. What do they do with their old third baseman? Pretty much the only thing they can do. Turn him into a bench player. Headley would be a backup at first and third bases, and maybe a defensive replacement at the hot corner in the late innings, depending who the Yankees acquire. (Plouffe would need a defensive caddy, for example.)

Last season the Yankees showed they are willing to reduce a pricey veteran’s playing time when a better option emerges. Brian McCann lost playing time to Gary Sanchez. Mark Teixeira lost playing time to Tyler Austin. That said, pushing aside a veteran for an up-and-coming kid is different than pushing aside a veteran for another veteran picked up in a trade. I don’t think the Yankees will have any trouble doing that though. The Yankees are out there looking for third base help because Headley is forcing them to.

5. Whither Gleyber? I can see it now. The Yankees trade for a third baseman and everyone wonders why they didn’t just call up Torres. “The Yankees hate young players!” will be said by someone, somewhere, as Sanchez and Aaron Judge hit balls to the moon and Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery start two out of every five days. It’s inevitable. If the Yankees add a veteran, many folks will wonder why they blocked Torres. Take it to the bank.

In reality though, Torres is a 20-year-old who has played only 43 games above Single-A ball. He’s a very good 20-year-old! But he’s still a 20-year-old. And his first two weeks in Triple-A have produced an .194/.356/.222 (80 wRC+) batting line and four errors in eleven games. Trading for a veteran third baseman and keeping Torres in Triple-A would be a completely reasonable move that would in no way indicate the Yankees have soured on Gleyber or anything like that. The Yankees are reportedly grooming Torres to take over at third base, but only if he forces the issue. Right now, he’s not.

* * *

The longer the Yankees stay in the race and the longer Headley continues to do this, the louder the cries with be for a new third baseman, whether it’s Torres or a trade target or whoever. Now that we’re into June, trade discussions figure to heat up as the rebuilders resign themselves to, well, another year of rebuilding. My guess is the Yankees would prefer to go with Torres at third base later this year, so I think they’ll be patient, see how Gleyber adjusts to Triple-A, and let the third base trade market come to them over the next few weeks.

DotF: Bird reaches base three times in first rehab game

Got some notes to pass along:

  • According to Randy Miller, the Yankees are grooming SS Gleyber Torres to take over at third base later this season. That isn’t a surprise. The writing has been on the wall since he started played third base and was quickly bumped up to Triple-A Scranton.
  • Welcome back, RHP Nick Rumbelow. He was activated off the Triple-A disabled list and sent down to Double-A Trenton, the team announced. Rumbelow had Tommy John surgery last April.
  • According to Matt Eddy, the Yankees have signed SS Luis Santos, who I assume is an international free agent and part of the 2016-17 signing class. Also, they’ve released RHP Kolton Mahoney.
  • Voting is open for the Triple-A International League All-Stars. Here’s the ballot. Lehigh Valley fans are voting like crazy. Their players are the leading vote-getters at six of the nine positions. Here’s the latest voting update.

Triple-A Scranton (6-3 loss to Columbus)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 1-4, 1 R, 1 BB
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 1-5, 1 2B, 2 K — 14-for-35 (.400) with five doubles and two homers in his last eight games
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 3-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI — first home run of his rehab assignment … here’s video of the homer
  • LF Clint Frazier: 1-2, 2 BB — 12.1% walk rate and 20.6% walk rate … had a 6.5% walk rate and a 27.8% strikeout rate during his 25 games with the RailRiders last year
  • RF Mason Williams: 0-4
  • LHP Caleb Smith: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 5/3 GB/FB — 63 of 104 pitches were strikes (61%)
  • RHP J.P. Feyereisen: 2 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 4/2 GB/FB — 20 of 39 pitches were strikes (51%) … Triple-A debut for the fourth piece in the Andrew Miller trade

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