DotF: Sanchez homers again, Bird returns in Trenton’s win

1B Greg Bird was activated off the Double-A Trenton DL, the team announced. He missed the last month with a shoulder strain. 1B/3B Dante Bichette Jr. was send down to High-A Tampa to clear a roster spot. He was hitting .213/.253/.298 (54 wRC+) with the Thunder. Also, LHP Matt Tracy was outrighted off the 40-man roster, reports Chad Jennings. That means he cleared waivers and remains with the organization. The Yankees now have two open 40-man spots.

Triple-A Scranton (10-2 win over Syracuse)

  • CF Mason Williams: 0-5, 1 RBI
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-5, 2 R — had two hits in his previous 15 at-bats
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 1-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI
  • C Austin Romine: 0-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB — one hit in his last 15 at-bats (.067)
  • LF Ben Gamel: 1-2, 2 R, 2 BB
  • RF Tyler Austin: 1-4, 2 K
  • RHP Jaron Long: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 1 HB, 7/3 GB/FB — 62 of 92 pitches were strikes (67%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, zeroes, 2/1 GB/FB — seven of 12 pitches were strikes (58%)
  • RHP Chris Martin: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K — 12 pitches, nine strikes
  • RHP Branden Pinder: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 1/2 GB/FB — 14 of 24 pitches were strikes (58%)

[Read more…]

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Game 15: Adam’s Turn

(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)
(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)

The last turn through the rotation has gone really well for the Yankees. Michael Pineda labored a bit on Sunday, sure, but otherwise Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and Nathan Eovaldi all chucked at least seven innings with no more than two runs allowed. Sabathia and Eovaldi did it against a tough Tigers lineup too.

Tonight will be Adam Warren‘s turn to have a strong start against that same Detroit lineup. Warren’s first start was pretty good (two runs in 5.1 innings) but his second start was a mess (four runs in four innings), which I guess isn’t surprising for a guy who is a full-time MLB starter for the first time. A win tonight would clinch at least a series tie against arguably the best team in baseball and push the Yankees over .500 for the first time in 2015. Here is the Tigers’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Chris Young
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Carlos Beltran
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. 2B Gregorio Petit
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    RHP Adam Warren

Once again, it’ll be a cold and rainy night at Comerica Park. There are some light showers and flurries (!) in the forecast later tonight but it shouldn’t be anything that will cause a delay or a postponement. They played through some heavy rain for an inning or two last night, remember. First pitch is scheduled for 7:08pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Roster Move: Welcome back, Matt Tracy. The Yankees claimed Tracy off waivers from the Marlins and optioned him to Triple-A Scranton, the team announced. Miami designated Tracy for assignment yesterday to clear a 40-man roster spot for another call-up after claiming him off waivers from New York over the weekend. The 40-man roster is now full.

Yanks outright Joel De La Cruz, lose Matt Tracy to Marlins on waivers

Tracy. (Presswire)
Tracy. (Presswire)

The Yankees have outrighted right-hander Joel De La Cruz off the 40-man roster, the team announced. He is with Triple-A Scranton. Also, the Marlins have claimed southpaw Matt Tracy, who was called up for a day and designated for assignment as part of that long man revolving door last week. Miami says they’ve optioned Tracy to Triple-A. There are now 39 players on the 40-man roster.

De La Cruz, 25, was with the Yankees for a few days last week but did not appear in a game. I don’t even think he warmed up. He had a 4.44 ERA (4.09 FIP) in 121.2 innings split between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton last season. De La Cruz was the guy the Yankees tried to trade to the Cubs for Alfonso Soriano rather than Corey Black two years ago.

The 26-year-old Tracy allowed three unearned runs in two innings in his only game with New York last week. He had a 3.75 ERA (438 FIP) in 151 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last summer. Tracy was an interesting sleeper prospect a few years back but never did that next step in his development. I assume De La Cruz will step into the Triple-A rotation spot Tracy was expected to hold down this year.

Game Six: All Eyes on Masahiro

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

So the first five games of the season have been pretty awful for the Yankees. I’m struggling to remember another five-game stretch when they looked this inept in just about all phases of the game. Thankfully, teams are never as bad as they look when they’re playing their worst (they’re also never really as good as they look when they’re playing their best), it just feels that way.

Masahiro Tanaka is making his second start of the season tonight, and yesterday he told reporters he watched some video and fixed some mechanical issues between starts. “I think I was able to make some adjustments after my first start up until today … I needed time to settle down and work on what I had to work on. I think the past four days were good for me,” he said to Josh Thomson.

Pitchers watch video and make adjustments between starts all the time, so this isn’t exactly out of the ordinary. But, because it’s Tanaka, it’s newsworthy. I just want to see him have some more confidence in his fastball tonight and not rely on his offspeed stuff all the time. Shying away from the fastball is no way to go through life. Also, maybe win? Could be cool. Here’s the starting nine:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. DH Alex Rodriguez
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

Clay Buchholz will be on the mound for the Red Sox. Here’s their lineup.

It was a gorgeous day in New York today and the weather will be just as nice tonight. Tonight’s game will begin just after 8pm ET and you can watch on ESPN. Over/under on the number of “he should just have the surgery” comments is set at 19.5. Try to enjoy the game.

Roster Move: The Yankees have designated Matt Tracy for assignment and called up Kyle Davies, the team announced. Davies takes Tracy’s place on both the 25-man and 40-man rosters. Davies was scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton tomorrow and should be good for many innings tonight, which I hope isn’t necessary.

Game Five: The Day After

Last night's game in picture form. (Presswire)
Last night’s game in picture form. (Presswire)

Last night’s 19-inning marathon gave me a hangover. That game was all sorts of awful. If you want to blame the offense, you can do that. If you want to blame the pitching, you can do that too. Defense? Base-running? Blame worthy as well. If you’re the type that needs to assign blame to everything, last night was the perfect game for you. Lots of options.

Anyway, none of that matters now. It’s a new day and a new game and boy would it be nice to see the Yankees pick up a win on Saturday afternoon. Or even just hold a lead. They’ve had the lead for exactly one half-inning out of the 45.5 innings they’ve played in 2015. As best I can tell, no team has had a lead for less time this year. Even the 0-4 White Sox held a lead for one full inning at one point the other day. Here’s the lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Chris Young
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. 1B Alex Rodriguezyup
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. RF Garrett Jones
  7. C John Ryan Murphy
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Gregorio Petit
    RHP Adam Warren

As expected, the Red Sox activated Joe Kelly (biceps) off the DL so he could make this afternoon’s start. He’ll be on a 90-pitch limit. Knuckleballer Steven Wright was send down to make room on the roster. Here is Boston’s lineup.

It’s a nice clear day in New York but windy as hell. Nearly lost my hat when I went out to get breakfast this morning. This afternoon’s game will begin just after 1pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and Fox Sports 1 nationally. Enjoy.

Roster Move: The Yankees have called up lefty Matt Tracy to bolster their worn out bullpen, the team announced. Tracy was scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton today, so he’s good for 80+ pitches if needed. I hope they aren’t. Ivan Nova was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot and Chasen Shreve was optioned to Triple-A to clear a 25-man roster spot. Shreve was awesome last night. Unfair game, this baseball.

2013 Season Preview: The Number Fours

Our season preview series continues this week with the starting rotation, though the format will change just slightly. Since there’s no clear starter/backup/depth lineage when it comes to starting pitchers, we’ll instead look at each type of pitcher — ace, number two, back-end, etc. — at different levels.

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Number four starters are the black sheep of the rotation. The top three guys are important for obvious reasons, they’re the ones who will be expected the carry the team in the regular season and (especially) in the postseason. Fifth starters tend to be eminently replaceable and inconsequential. Fourth starters are just … there. Necessary, but not good enough to grab headlines and usually not bad enough to make teams seek a replacement.

St. Philip of Hughes
Phil Hughes is no kid anymore. He’s entering his seventh big league season and will qualify for free agency next winter. The 26-year-old has thrown 635 innings across 152 career games, so it wouldn’t be wrong to call him a veteran at this point. He’s been a top prospect, a rookie starter, an elite setup man, injured, an All-Star starting pitcher, a World Champion … you name it and it seems like Hughes has done it already.

Last summer, Phil followed up an awful April (7.88 ERA and 6.53 FIP) with five pretty strong months (3.90 ERA and ~4.32 FIP), with the end result being 32 starts and 191.1 innings that were almost exactly league average (4.23 ERA and 4.56 FIP). Hughes was maddeningly homer prone (1.65 HR/9) and that’s something that didn’t change all year. Even at his best he’d give up homers, they just happened to be solo homers because he never walked anyone (2.16 BB/9 and 5.6 BB%). Hughes quietly posted the tenth best K/BB ratio in the league (3.59), better than Hiroki Kuroda, Jered Weaver, and reigning Cy Young Award winner David Price.

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

A minor back injury forced Hughes out of his Game Three start in the ALCS, and another back issue (maybe related, maybe not) sidelined him for several weeks in camp. He threw a simulated game earlier this week and the next step could involve a minor league start, but the bottom line is that he may not be ready in time for the start of the season. If not, he’ll open the year on the DL and presumably rejoin the rotation in the second or third turn through. Barring no setbacks, of course.

Hughes is a bit of a polarizing figure in Yankeeland. Some see a failed prospect, others see a useful fourth starter, others see a guy about to enter the prime of his career. Who’s right? Probably all three to some extent. It’s extremely unlikely Hughes will ever develop into the frontline pitcher he was projected to become a few years ago, but at the same time it’s obvious he’s a big league caliber starter right now. At 26 and going on 27 this summer, taking a step forward isn’t out of the question at all. He fits all of that criteria.

As far as the Yankees are concerned, the Yankees will need Hughes to be better this season than he was last year. They lost a lot of offense and will rely on their pitching to carry them, so Phil needs to take that step forward and put together six strong months instead of just five. He’ll have to curb the homer problem a bit — won’t be easy in Yankee Stadium and the other offense-happy AL East parks, obviously — and most importantly, stay on the field. Whenever he gets back from the DL, he has to stay healthy and make every start the rest of the way.

As far as his impending free agency, all Hughes needs to do to ensure a fat contract is repeat his 2012 effort. Guys who are still three years away from their 30th birthday and have had three league average seasons in the last four years tend to get paid well, especially when they do it in the AL East and have a strong playoff track record*. Will the Yankees be the team to give him his next contract? I’m pretty convinced the answer is no given the plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold in 2014. It’s one thing to let guys like Nick Swisher and Russell Martin leave as free agents, but it’s another to let homegrown players like Hughes walk, especially at his age. I wouldn’t be too happy if that happens.

* Hughes got crushed in the 2010 ALCS (11 runs in 8.2 IP), but otherwise he’s been nails in the postseason. We’re talking a 2.61 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 31 innings. Doesn’t mean much, but it’s better than the alternative.

(Star-Ledger)
(Star-Ledger)

Knocking on the Door
The Yankees have a few back-end types slated for Triple-A Scranton, with the best of the bunch being 25-year-old Adam Warren. The right-hander got pounded in his big league debut (and only career MLB game to date) last summer, allowing six runs and ten of the 17 men he faced to reach base in 2.1 innings, but he was much more effective in Triple-A (3.71 ERA and 3.72 FIP in 152.2 IP). I ranked him 17th on my preseason top 30 prospects list in part because a little of his prospect shine has come off in the last year, mostly because he repeated Triple-A and didn’t take much of a step forward (if any) in his performance. Warren has the tools to start — specifically a five-pitch fix and an aggressive, bulldog approach — but will need something else to click to reach that number four starter ceiling. I like him best as a short reliever, where he can scrap some of the miscellaneous pitches and attack hitters with his two best offerings.

The Top Prospect
It’s Warren, but for the sake of variety I’m also going to mention left-hander Matt Tracy. The 24-year-old southpaw has just one season as a full-time pitcher under his belt, yet he still managed a 3.18 ERA (3.63 FIP) in 99 innings for High-A Tampa last year. He uses his big — listed at 6–foot-3 and 215 lbs. — frame to pitch downhill with a low-90s fastball and a fading changeup. The Yankees also have him working on a big-breaking curveball. Tracy signed as a college senior in the 24th round of the 2011 draft, so he’s a older than typical High-A prospects in terms of age but quite a bit younger in terms of pitching experience. I’m a fan and I ranked him 22nd on my preseason top 30, just a handful of spots behind Warren. The Yankees will aggressively bump Tracy up to Double-A Trenton this summer and he could force his way into the big league picture by the second half of 2014.

The Deep Sleeper
Probably going a little too far off the board here, but 21-year-old right-hander Cesar Vargas has the three-pitch mix and solid enough command to wind up near the back of a big league rotation. He pitched to a 3.13 ERA (2.96 FIP) in 46 innings with the rookie level Gulf Coast League affiliate and Short Season Staten Island last year, his first in the United States after three in the Dominican Summer League. Vargas obviously has a very, very long way to go, but all the tools are there for him to become a number four starter down the road. He just has to learn how to use them.

* * *

The Yankees and Hughes are in a very weird place this season. They obviously need him to be very good this summer, but the better he pitches the less likely it is he re-signs with the team after the year. Not exactly what we’re all used to, but such is life. Warren and Tracy give the team some decent back-end depth, plus they could serve as trade bait if the team needs to make a move or three. Cheap starters are always a hot commodity.

YFU interviews Matt Tracy

Yankees Fans Unite posted an interview with Yankees farmhand Matt Tracy earlier this week, discussing his development as a pitcher after he played mostly outfield in college, among other things. The 23-year-old left-hander is the best sleeper prospect in the organization after signing for $2,000 as a 24th round pick in 2011, helping the Staten Island Yankees to the league title last year after shifting from the bullpen to the rotation at midseason. Make sure you check out the interview, it’s well worth your time.