Friday, July 31, 2015

Rough day for Yankees leads to ramped up trade speculation

The New York Yankees have had better days than they endured Thursday. Names the Yankees were interested in on the trade market came off, Michael Pineda was placed on the disabled list with a forearm strain and they lost their game in walk-off fashion.

It looks as though the Yankees will use this final non-waiver trading day to grab a top-flight reliever, having been linked to both Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman. They’ve most recently been linked to Carter Capps as a backup plan should either the Padres or Reds want one of the “untouchables” (Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Greg Bird and to a lesser extent Jorge Mateo) prospects in return.

The reliever over starter mindset here is based on the Yankees wanting to shorten games to six (or even five innings) by utilizing an extremely deep and ultra-talented bullpen. It also has a lot to do with the quality of the starting pitchers still on the market who would not cost one of the players mentioned above.

The rotation is still an issue with CC Sabathia being flat-out awful and Pineda’s injury. However, the club has internal options to fill the rotation void until Pineda can come back. They can use any combination of Adam Warren (would need to be stretched back out), Bryan Mitchell or Severino.

Finally, if the Yankees cannot reach an agreement for Kimbrel, Chapman or Capps they don’t exactly have a problematic bullpen situation with Warren, Chasen Shreve, Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller carrying the load.

I agree with the Yankees not wanting to add the main three to a deal, but would be fine with Mateo in one IF it brings a controllable starter and reliever (Tyson Ross and Kimbrel) for example. I've never seen Mateo play and understand he could be great, but he's pretty far off and anything can happen. A deal like this makes Yanks much better now and for a couple more seasons.

It should be an exciting day.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Has Chris Capuano thrown his last pitch for Yankees?

The New York Yankees felt they needed veteran depth for the rotation during the offseason and signed Chris Capuano to a one-year, $5 million contract to fit the role. Capuano supplied the Yankees with some decent innings in 2014, but at the time of the signing I felt this was an unnecessary deal. After putting up a 6.97 ERA this season, maybe it’s time the Yankees felt the same way.

The need for Capuano with Adam Warren, Bryan Mitchell and others in the system seemed like a move that didn’t need to be made, but for the Yankees, $5 million is a splash in the bucket. It’s hard to get too riled up when it’s not my money, but Capuano on the mound causes more than just bad results for the team. He’s taking a roster spot; one which could go to a pitcher who could grow with time on the major league roster. And more importantly, be better.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Yankees’ Teixeira goes ballistic, then rips third base coach Espada

New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira has always seemed like a mind-mannered guy. He obviously has a good sense of humor, based on his talk show parody from last season in which he was the host. But Monday night, Teixeira showed a side of him that he might want to rethink for the future.

While on second base in the eighth inning, Chase Headley looped a single to center field, and third base coach Joe Espada sent Teixeira home. Nothing crazy here; except Espada apparently yelled to Teixeira “easy, easy,” indicating he could make it home without busting it down the line. It was evident looking at replays that Teixeira did just that slowing down after rounding third.

Unfortunately, Texas Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin has a great arm. He threw a bullet home and by the time Teixeira noticed there was going to be a play at the plate he was too late to try and pick up speed. Teixeira immediately turned around a put his arms in the air and yelled something toward Espada.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Yankees need another strong second half from Chase Headley

When the New York Yankees traded for Chase Headley last July, they hoped he would find his stroke and solidify the revolving door at third base. He did. This season, after a rocky first half, the Yanks are looking for another strong finish from Headley in both departments. He’s on his way to doing it.

Chase Headley
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
Headley was signed to a four-year, $52 million deal, and they expected him to be much of the same person who finished out the 2014 season. They did not figure he would generate a .682 OPS, and they certainly didn’t peg him for 16 errors for the season, let alone to this point.

There is reason to be optimistic. Headley has looked much better at third base in recent weeks, and he has been hitting the ball well this month. Since July 1, Headley's slashing .333/.379/.426 with five doubles and seven RBI. The Yankees would love to have that kind of production (maybe with a few homers) going forward.

Headley has a distinct record of hitting much better after the All-Star break, making July look like a premonition of the remainder of the summer. I tweeted this Friday about Headley's career first and second half splits.

Those are rather encouraging stats for Headley and the Yankees.

Headley has seemingly stabilized in the field and has begun to find a groove at the plate. It would be a big boost to the offense if Headley can become a contributor at the bottom third of the order. Based on his production this month and his history, there’s a good chance he can answer the call.



Thursday, July 23, 2015

If Yankees find way on road, watch out

The New York Yankees have won their last five series, including a series sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, which wrapped up this afternoon. All but one of the series' victories have occurred at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees embark on a 10-game road trip where they'll hope to continue to maintain or advance their comfortable lead in the American League East. It will take a reversal of performance on the road, or else the Yanks might end up falling back to the pack.

The Yankees enter the road trip with a 23-24 record away from Yankee Stadium. The Yanks have played in 15 series on the road so far this season, winning five and splitting another. Three of those series’ wins occurred during the first four weeks of the season.

If the Yankees want to put a stranglehold on the division, winning a couple of the upcoming series is imperative. Doing so will also go a long way toward building confidence that they can win outside of Yankee Stadium, and it will give notice to opposing teams.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Yankees optioning Bryan Mitchell might signal expensive trade market

The New York Yankees optioned right-hander pitcher Bryan Mitchell to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and recalled righty Branden Pinder Saturday.

Mitchell had been up with the club for a few weeks and made six appearances totaling 9.1 innings. He carried a 2.89 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP, while striking out nine batters during his stay.

So far in 10.2 innings (nine games) with the Yankees, Pinder has a 2.53 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP. He’ll be the right-handed counterpart to lefty Chris Capuano out of the bullpen in long-relief or mop-up duties.

I've been saying for some time that the Yankees might be better off with Mitchell as the insurance for the rotation versus trading for it. This move could signal that the Yankees are finding the trade market to be a bit expensive and felt the team is better served by getting Mitchell stretched back out in case of an injury or poor performance down the road.

The Yankees outward position on trades seems to be to hold on to their best prospects (Luis Severino, Aaron Judge and Gregory Bird for example) and be reluctant about trading midlevel prospects unless something of value comes their way.

In the rental market, middle-of-the-rotation starting pitching (Mike Leake and Jeff Samardzija for example) would still cost midlevel prospects. Maybe the Yankees feel unwilling to part with the players they would need to give up when Mitchell is available for nothing.

The move makes absolute sense in my view even if the reason has nothing to do with the trade market. Mitchell is better served as a starter for the club in the long run and if there isn't a concern about innings at this time, then stretching him back out is the way to go.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



Thursday, July 16, 2015

If Yankees’ Refsnyder is in, who is out?

The New York Yankees finally called up second baseman Rob Refsnyder Saturday and he had a productive weekend series in Boston going 2-for-7 with a two-run home run. It looks as though he is going to stick around for at least a little bit. At issue, is the Yankees have Brendan Ryan and Carlos Beltran ready to come off the disabled list in the very near future. Who on the Yankees’ roster becomes expendable?

Rob Refsnyder
Photo credit: Tom Hagerty via Flickr
The first candidate is easy enough to figure out; Gregorio Petit. He was signed just before the season began when Ryan went down with his first injury. Petit has not been used much (20 games, 47 plate appearances, 27 OPS+) and has been underwhelming in his appearances. With a glut of players in the infield, Petit becomes a disposable piece. He likely clears waivers and accepts a position at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. If not, who cares?

It’s not certain who will be ready first, but what happens when Ryan or Beltran is the second of the two to be ready to be activated? We know Beltran gets a spot back on the 25-man roster, but it seems that after removing Petit, it’s either Ryan or Stephen Drew who is next to get lopped off if Refsnyder sticks with the club.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Yankees weekend news wrap: AL East, Refsnyder, All-Star break, Futures

The MLB All-Star break has begun and the New York Yankees find themselves sitting atop the American League East with a 48-40 record. The Yanks hold a 3 1/2 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays (the Rays are five back in the loss column, while the Baltimore Orioles are four back). After a 15-12 record in June, the Yankees are 7-3 in July. The club finished off the first half of the season winning two of three games at Boston; sinking the Red Sox 6 1/2 games back (seven on loss side) in the division.

I wrote last week at SNY that the Yankees will need to find a way to pull away from the pack, but that the clubs trying to stay with them, the Red Sox included, each have the ability to make a run making it no easy task. The division has been declared weak by many, but really the entire American League is nothing to get all concerned about. If the Yankees are able to reach the playoffs by winning the division, they could make some noise in the postseason.

Refsnyder finally called up


Rob Refsnyder
Photo credit: Tom Hagerty via Flickr
For what has seemed like an eternity of waiting for many Yankees’ fans, Rob Refsnyder made his major league debut Saturday in Boston. In his first game, he looked comfortable at the plate, but didn’t come away with any hits. In Sunday’s series finale, Refsnyder went 2-for-4 at the dish with his first MLB hit (a single) and his first big league home run, a two-run blast over the Green Monster, which ended up being the difference in the game. Refsnyder made a couple nice plays in the field, but was charged with an error after failing to make a catch in a fielder’s choice play as part of a messy ninth inning by the Yankees in the field.

The knock on Refsnyder is his fielding. Aside from the missed catch, he looked good during plays he was involved including a nice turn on a double play chance in Saturday’s game. So far he has not looked out of sorts, or overmatched.

There are questions as to how the Yankees will utilize Refsnyder after the All-Star break. Will he be part of a strict platoon with Stephen Drew? Or will he take on an abundance of the plate appearances going forward? Is this an audition for using Refsnyder as a trade chip?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Yankees’ legend and Hall of Famer Goose Gossage talks baseball past and present

As part of Hormel Foods’ No-hassle Major League Tailgate Tips promotion, I had the distinct pleasure and honor of speaking with former New York Yankees’ reliever and Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Rich "Goose" Gossage by phone Friday.

Photo credit: www.goosegossage.com
Gossage pitched for nine different teams across 22 seasons in the big leagues. He spent six seasons with the Yankees (1978-83) and finished the 1989 season in pinstripes after being picked up on waivers that August.

Gossage, who threw 100-mph gas, intimidated batters while compiling a career mark of 124-107 with a 3.01 ERA and saved 310 games. Gossage nailed down 52 saves in which he recorded at least seven outs, 125 with at least six outs, something unheard of today.

Gossage, now 64, was a nine-time All-Star and a member of three World Series teams including the 1978 World Champion Yankees. Gossage was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008, his ninth time on the ballot.

After over 20 years passing since he was last called from the bullpen, I got the impression while speaking with Gossage that if I handed him a ball and told him there was a game to save he’d take it and blow batters away. He misses the competition and being with teammates; something he remembers since he was 7 years old.

“I miss it, I think we all miss it; there is nothing like facing that hitter up there,” Gossage said. "I miss that competition the most.”

Gossage noted that the camaraderie with teammates was another thing absent from his life since hanging up his spikes. I asked him about first impressions with teammates and how they might change over time. He laughed and jumped straight into talking about his favorite teammate, Thurman Munson.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Yankees receiving equivalent to midseason acquisitions in Ellsbury and Miller

July is the time when trade rumors begin to swirl around Major League Baseball. For the New York Yankees it’s typically a busy period for such speculation because the club is generally in the playoff hunt and like any team they’re looking for upgrades, plus they have cash on hand to take on costly contracts.

Jacoby Ellsbury
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
This season might not be any different, but before the club gets deep into trading season, they have two All-Star caliber reinforcements coming back into the fold Wednesday in Jacoby Ellsbury and Andrew Miller.

Ellsbury has not played since May 19 and the Yankees have gone 22-21 during the span. The club was 20-17 with Ellsbury on the field (he missed three games before the DL stint). Brett Gardner has done a fantastic job in Ellsbury’s place atop the Yankees’ lineup, but it was the one-two punch being delivered almost nightly that sparked the Yankees earlier this season.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Yankees fail to cash in against Athletics, Sonny Gray

The New York Yankees dropped their series opener to the Oakland Athletics 4-3 in 10 innings after scoring two runs against Sonny Gray in the first inning. Some random thoughts about the game with notable news of the day mixed in.
  • The Yankees missed their opportunities when Gray was showing rust early on. Gray settled in, the offense stalled and the Yanks ultimately lost.
  • Any chance Nathan Eovaldi will consistently be able to pitch through the six inning (he’s only done it 10-of-18 times this season)?
Nathan Eovaldi
Photo credit: Arturo Pardavilla III via Flickr

Monday, July 6, 2015

Yankees weekend news wrap: First place, injury report and potential All-Stars

The New York Yankees regained first place in the American League East, taking two of three games from the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees lost Carlos Beltran to the 15-day disabled list with a sprained oblique. The club failed to produce an All-Star starter on the AL roster for the first time in 16 seasons and just the second time since 1992.

Home sweet home


After a 3-4 road trip, the Yankees arrived back in New York and earned their first two walk-off wins of the season Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game featured two separate comebacks; one courtesy of a three-run game-tying home run by Mark Teixeira, and the other, via a three-run game-winning homer off the bat of Brian McCann in the 12th inning.

Teixeira and McCann have been incredibly solid this season, especially when compared with the production they provided in 2014. Each player has taken different approaches to beating the defensive shift; Teixeira powers through it (and over it), while McCann tries to go the other way when he can. It has been working well for both and the Yankees have to be pleased with their performance to date.

It’s also bears mentioning that Teixeira and McCann have been exceptional in the field as well. Teixeira seems to save errors from his infielders daily and McCann has been fantastic throwing runners out this season.