Yankees outright Sam Demel; Dan Otero claimed by Oakland

The Yankees have outrighted right-hander Sam Demel to Triple-A Scranton, the team announced. Both Ben Francisco and Jayson Nix were added to the 40-man roster in the wake of this move and the earlier David Aardsma move. Demel was claimed off waivers from the Astros earlier this week, but it’s no surprise he was cut so soon.

In other news, right-hander Dan Otero has been claimed off waivers by the Athletics. He had been designated for assignment to clear a spot for Demel. The Yankees grabbed Otero off waivers from the Giants earlier this week.

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Roster Moves: Mo, Miller, Nix, Storey

The Yankees just announced a series of roster moves, so let’s recap…

  • Mariano Rivera passed his physical, so his one-year deal worth $10M guaranteed is official. He’ll receive $500k for ALCS MVP, $1M for World Series MVP, and $1M for the Rolaids Relief Award according to Ken Rosenthal.
  • The Yankees claimed right-hander Jim Miller off waivers from the Athletics. The 30-year-old pitched to a 2.59 ERA (4.74 FIP) in 48.2 innings for Oakland last year. He owns a 2.42 ERA (4.42 FIP) with big strikeout (8.10 K/9 and 20.4 K%) and walk (5.12 BB/9 and 12.9 BB%) rates in 63.1 career big league innings. He’s a fastball-slider guy.
  • Jayson Nix has been re-signed to a new one-year contact, avoiding arbitration. Chad Jennings says it’s a $900k deal, which is exactly what MLBTR projected.
  • The Yankees designated both Nix and Mickey Storey for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster for Rivera and Miller. Nix agreed to accept the assignment to the minors if and when he clears waivers.

9/21-9/23 Series Preview: Oakland Athletics

(Gregory Shamus/Getty)

Blame the Athletics. The Yankees’ second half slide all started out in Oakland, with a four-game sweep that featured four one-run losses. The Bombers have started to right the ship these last two weeks and now the A’s are coming to the Bronx for three games. I think payback is on everyone’s mind.

What Have They Done Lately?

Although they hammered the Tigers yesterday, Oakland lost three straight prior to that and four of their last seven overall. The A’s are no pushover; they’re within shouting disaster of the Rangers in the AL West and are just one game worse than the Yankees at 85-64 with a +74 run differential.

Offense

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

The Athletics have a middle of the road offense, featuring a team 96 wRC+ with an average of 4.3 runs per game. I think they have the offense people think the Yankees have, meaning homer-reliant (172 HR, ninth in MLB) with a super-low batting average (.236, 29th in MLB). They will draw some walks but generally just sit around waiting for the long ball, far more than the Yankees have this year.

Oakland’s two best hitters this season have been Josh Reddick (114 wRC+) and Yoenis Cespedes (134 wRC+), the latter of whom just crushed the Yankees during the four-game set in July. Coco Crisp (108 wRC+) has been solid at the leadoff spot and Chris Carter (140 wRC+) has hit the snot out of the ball since coming up at midseason. Josh Donaldson (94 wRC+) and Stephen Drew (61 wRC+) hold down the left side of the infield. The various platoon bats including Jonny Gomes (162 wRC+ vs. LHP), Seth Smith (125 wRC+ vs. RHP), Brandon Moss (155 wRC+ vs. RHP), and catchers Derek Norris (59 wRC+ vs. LHP) and George Kottaras (124 wRC+ vs. RHP).

The list of September call-ups is quite lengthy and is highlighted by former everyday guys Daric Barton (82 wRC+), Cliff Pennington (64 wRC+), and Jemile Weeks (75 wRC+). Pennington never actually went down, but Drew gets the majority of the playing time at short these days. Infielder Brandon Hicks, outfielder Collin Cowgill, and utility man Adam Rosales round out the rest of the bench.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Jarrod Parker
The 23-year-old Parker picked a bad year to be a good rookie. Guys like Mike Trout, Yu Darvish, and Cespedes mean he will be a Rookie of the Year afterthought despite a rock solid 3.54 ERA (3.48 FIP). He doesn’t miss a ton of bats (6.64 K/9 and 17.7 K%), doesn’t walk a ton (3.24 BB/9 and 8.6 BB%), and doesn’t get an overwhelming amount of ground balls (44.1%). I suspect he’ll be a Matt Cain type down the road in that his actual performance is greater than the sum of his peripherals. Anyway, Parker is a two fastball guy, sitting in the low-to-mid-90s with both the two- and four-seamers. His money pitch is a low-80s changeup that he’ll throw to both lefties and righties. A low-80s slider is a distant fourth pitch. Parker dominated the Yankees earlier this season, holding them to one run in eight innings.

(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Saturday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. LHP Travis Blackley
Blackley, 29, is well-traveled. He was a hotshot prospect with the Mariners once upon a time, but after flaming out he wound up pitching in his native Australia as well as Mexico and Korea. He resurfaced in the big leagues this season, and has pitched to a 3.65 ERA (3.62 FIP) in 98.2 innings as a swingman. He’s a ground ball (47.3%) guy who limits walks (2.46 BB/9 and 6.8 BB%), though he isn’t a threat to strike many people out (5.93 K/9 and 16.3 K%). Blackley is a four-pitch guy who will sit right around 90 with his four-seamer, backing it up with a mid-80s slider, a low-80s changeup, and a mid-70s curveball. The Yankees didn’t see him earlier this season, and it’s worth noting that right-handers (.296 wOBA) have much more success against Blackley than lefties (.249 wOBA). He’s starting this game because Brett Anderson suffered a season-ending oblique injury earlier this week.

Sunday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP A.J. Griffin
One of four rookies in the Athletics’ rotation, the 24-year-old Griffin has been superb (2.45 ERA and 3.50 FIP) since coming up at midseason. He’s an extreme fly ball pitcher (38.2% grounders) who won’t walk anyone (1.55 BB/9 and 4.4 BB%) and will miss enough bats (7.23 K/9 and 20.5 K%). A big, slow, upper-60s (yes, 60s) curveball is Griffin’s moneymaker, a frustrating little floater that catches everyone out in front. His fastball sits in the upper-80s and he’ll also mix in low-80s sliders and changeups. Griffin has a bit of a reverse split (.227 wOBA vs. LHB and .265 vs. RHB) and he held New York to two runs in six innings back in July.

(Doug Pensinger/Getty)

Bullpen Status
There’s no such thing as a short bullpen these days, not with tight division races and September call-ups crowding the roster. Closer Grant Balfour (3.42 FIP) hasn’t pitched in a week, but setup men Ryan Cook (3.21 FIP) and Sean Doolittle (1.31 FIP) both pitched yesterday. Doolittle, a left-hander and former first baseman, is especially ridiculous, with a 12.34 K/9 and 1.86 BB/9 since being recalled a few months ago. Nearly 40% of the lefties he’s faced as a big leaguer have struck out. The guy has been crazy good.

Righties Pat Neshek (3.04 FIP) and Evan Scribner (3.32 FIP) join southpaws Jerry Blevins (4.22 FIP) and Jordan Norberto (3.91 FIP) in the middle innings. Blevins is the specialist, Norberto the multi-inning guy. The crop of September call-ups includes righty Jesse Chavez, lefty Pedro Figueroa, righty Jim Miller, and righty Tyson Ross. The Athletics are carrying 34 total players at the moment, so they’re certainly taking advantage of the expanded rosters. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the details on the Yankees’ relief corps, then check out Athletics Nation and Beaneball for the latest on this weekend’s opponent.

7/19-7/22 Series Preview: Oakland Athletics

The Oakland Oaks? (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

It all started with the trip out to Oakland. The Yankees were in fourth place with a 23-21 record when they arrived at the Coliseum in late-May, but they swept that series and have since won 34 of 47 games to vault into first place in the division. This weekend they’ll be in the East Bay for a four-game set.

What Have They Done Lately?

The A’s are on fire. They walked off with a win over the Rangers yesterday and have won four of five since the All-Star break. If you back to the first of the month, they’ve won ten of their last 12. At 47-44 with a +13 run differential, Oakland is in third place in the AL West and is right in the mix for one of the two Wild Card spots.

Offense

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)

Although they average just 3.8 runs per game, the A’s have scored 51 runs during this 12-game hot streak (4.3 per game). Their best hitter all season has been Josh Reddick (140 wRC+), who leads the club in every meaningful offensive statistic. Big money signing Yoenis Cespedes was out with a hand injury the last time these two clubs met, but he’s healthy now and brings 134 wRC+ to the cleanup spot. It’s been a while since they’ve had a middle of the order that powerful; you probably have to go back to the Milton Bradley/Frank Thomas/Nick Swisher trio in 2006.

Recent call-ups Brandon Moss (159 wRC+ in 104 PA) and Chris Carter (243 wRC+ in 36 PA) have hit the snot out of the ball lately, adding some depth to the lineup. Seth Smith (128 wRC+ vs. RHP) and Jonny Gomes (146 wRC+ vs. LHP) form a mean DH platoon while Coco Crisp (80 wRC+) is flanked by Reddick and Cespedes in the outfield. Infielders Jemile Weeks (75 wRC+), Brandon Inge (68 wRC+), and Cliff Pennington (53 wRC+) haven’t done much of anything, ditto backstops Kurt Suzuki (40 wRC+) and Derek Norris (56 wRC+). Spare infielder Brandon Hicks (49 wRC+ in limited time) hit the walk-off dinger yesterday.

Pitching Matchups

Thursday: RHP Freddy Garcia vs. RHP A.J. Griffin
A former college reliever turned starter, Griffin will be making his fifth career big league start tonight. He’s pitched to a shiny 2.63 ERA (4.65 FIP) in his first four starts (24 IP) with less than stellar rate stats: 6.00 K/9 (17.2 K%), 2.25 BB/9 (16.5 BB%), 1.50 HR/9, and 39.4% grounders. My expert analysis says his .194 BABIP will correct at some point. The 24-year-old sits right around 90 with his four-seamer fastball, but his upper-60s (!) curveball is his bread-and-butter. Here, check it out. Griffin also throws low-80s sliders and changeups.

(Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Friday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. LHP Tommy Milone
The Yankees didn’t do anything to debunk the whole “can’t hit soft-tossing lefties they’ve never seen before” narrative by scoring just two runs off Milone in 6.2 innings back in April. Part of the Gio Gonzalez trade, Milone owns a 3.54 ERA (4.29 FIP) in 18 starts this season, relying on control (2.05 BB/9 and 5.5 BB%) more than anything else. He doesn’t strike guys out (5.98 K/9 and 16.2 K%), doesn’t limit homers (1.26 HR/9), and doesn’t get ground balls (39.4%). A mid-to-upper-80s fastball sets up a wide array of offspeed pitches, including a changeup right around 80, a mid-70s curve, and a mid-80s cutter. The changeup is his top secondary pitch and he has a reverse split because of it, so stacking the lineup with righties only helps him out.

Saturday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Jarrod Parker
Everyone’s talking about Mike Trout and rightfully so, but Parker is having himself one helluva rookie campaign as well. The 23-year-old right-hander came over from the Diamondbacks in the Trevor Cahill trade and has pitched to a 3.16 ERA (3.49 FIP) in 91 innings across 15 starts. His strikeout rate is solid (7.02 K/9 and 18.9 K%) and he limits homers (0.40 HR/9), but he will walk guys (4.05 BB/9 and 10.9 BB%) and give up fly balls (39.3% grounders). Parker works off his two low-to-mid-90s fastballs (two and four-seamer) and mixes in low-80s changeups and sliders. The Yankees have never seen him and he’s had some really good starts against good teams — like this one, this one, and this one — so this will be an interesting one.

Sunday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Bartolo Colon
The Yankees tagged their former teammate for six runs in six innings back in May, but otherwise Colon has provided the A’s with a 3.88 ERA (3.99 FIP) in 111.1 innings this year. His strikeouts (5.50 K/9 and 14.6 K%) are way down from last year, though his ground ball (47.7%) and walk (1.46 BB/9 and 3.9 BB%) rates have improved to help mitigate the damage. Bartolo remains a fastball-only pitcher, though he’s mostly low-90s with a four-seamer and upper-80s with the two-seamer now. Those 95s and 96s of last year are a thing of the past. Colon will break out a low-90s slider and low-80s changeup but very rarely. Handful of times per start, if that.

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Bullpen Status
Manager Bob Melvin ran through half his bullpen yesterday, including closer Ryan Cook (2.77 FIP), right-handed setup man Grant Balfour (3.63 FIP), and left-handed setup man Sean Doolittle (0.76 FIP in limited time). The recently recalled Evan Scribner (2.37 FIP) has pitched his way into higher leveraged work despite only making seven appearances. Lefty Jordan Norberto (4.15 FIP) is more of a multi-inning guy than a specialist while Jerry Blevins (3.89 FIP) is that one batter matchup southpaw. Right-hander Jim Miller (4.47 FIP) rounds out the seven-man bullpen. Oakland had Monday off and none of their relievers have pitched in even two straight games, so the bullpen is fresh.

The Yankees’ relief corps got a much needed break yesterday thanks to Hiroki Kuroda‘s rain-shortened complete game. The late-game guys, particularly Rafael Soriano, had been worked pretty hard since the All-Star break. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for exact reliever usage and both Athletics Nation and Beaneball for the latest and greatest on the Athletics.

Yankees claim right-hander Danny Farquhar off waivers

The Yankees have claimed right-hander Danny Farquhar off waivers from the Athletics and optioned him to Double-A Trenton. Brett Gardner was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot.

Farquhar, 25, is very well traveled. He was drafted by the Blue Jays, traded to the Athletics for Rajai Davis, traded back to the Blue Jays for David Purcey, then claimed off waivers by the Athletics before coming to New York. He has two career big league innings to his credit, both coming with Toronto last season. Back in 2010, Baseball America said he threw a 92-94 mph four-seamer and an 88-92 two-seamer in addition to both a slider and curveball. Here’s some old video. Farquhar is strictly a reliever and one without much success above the Double-A level.