Archive for July, 2014
Scott Sizemore released • 07.31.14
The Yankees just officially announced the waiver claim of right-hander Esmil Rogers.
They additionally released Triple-A infielder Scott Sizemore, who had been on temporarily inactive and disabled lists. Sizemore got some big league team earlier in the season — and he’s shown an ability to hit left-handed pitching while playing second and third — but he’d been inactive for a while, and had almost certainly fallen behind Zelous Wheeler, Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder in terms of a possible big league call up.
A few things as we cross into the final hour of non-waiver trading:
• Just breaking from Jordan Bastian, the Indians have traded Asdrubal Cabrera to the Nationals.
• Also relatively new bit of news: Jerry Crasnick says the Orioles have acquired left-handed reliever Andrew Miller. That’s a pretty good arm the Yankees won’t have to face this weekend, but one that could certainly help Baltimore try to hold onto the division.
• As I landed in Boston, there was a momentary rumble that the Yankees might have traded for Marlon Byrd. Turns out, a fake Twitter account started the whole thing and it was shot down quickly. One team official texted to say simply: “Nope… didn’t get him.” Certainly sounded like a permanent answer — used the phrase “didn’t get” instead of “haven’t gotten” — but that’s probably reading too much into the phrasing of a guy just shooting down a bogus report. Anyway, it’s the closest thing to Yankees action so far.
• Actually, I take that back. There is Yankees action today. Jack Curry tweeted that the team has claimed right-handed reliever Esmil Rogers off waivers from the Blue Jays. Still fairly young at 28 years old. Gets some strikeouts. Ugly 1.69 WHIP. That’s in the majors, though. Rogers has actually pitched pretty well since going down to Triple-A and pitching out of the rotation. Is he a better replacement starter than Chris Capuano? A better long man than either Chase Whitley or David Huff?
• Remember outfielder Abe Almonte, the guy traded to Seattle a couple of years ago for Shawn Kelley? Well, he’s on the move again. Today the Mariners shipped him to San Diego in a deal for Chris Denorfia. Almonte was pretty good last year, but he really struggled early this season and wound up shipped to Triple-A. His minor league numbers aren’t great this year, but Almonte was hitting much better recently. Maybe he can hang out with Yangervis Solarte.
• Jayson Stark has sources saying the Rays are “close” to trading David Price. As if the day hasn’t been eventful enough.
Just a few things to have on your radar:
• Jon Heyman reports that the asking price for Marlon Byrd is awfully high, and I guess that makes sense. Byrd might actually be the best hitter floating through the rumor mill these days, and the Phillies have him under contract through next season, so they don’t absolutely have to deal him right now. The best reason to deal him is that his stock is pretty high, so I have to imagine the Phillies want to take full advantage of that inflated value. That said, at some point, the Phillies surely have to just dump everything and start over. One report out of Philadelphia says the Yankees are still a possible — but not necessarily probable — landing spot for Byrd.
• The Red Sox have reportedly shipped out another starting pitcher. Heyman says that John Lackey has been traded to the Cardinals. He was scheduled to start against the Yankees this weekend.
• After that Jon Lester blockbuster, the A’s sent left-handed starter Tommy Milone to the Twins for useful-but-not-exciting outfielder Sam Fuld. The immediate reaction seems to have been fairly universal: That the A’s gave up a pretty valuable commodity for a nothing special outfielder. That might come from a mix of overvaluing Milone and undervaluing Fuld, but still, I thought Oakland could have gotten more for Milone. What’s his Yankees equivalent? David Phelps? The Yankees could use an outfielder right now too, but I can’t imagine they’d give Phelps for Fuld.
• USA Today’s Bob Nightengale says “dominoes will fall” if the Red Sox deal left-handed reliever Andrew Miller. I wonder if those are only left-handed dominoes, or if moving Miller might start some movement for all relievers. The Yankees could be in that market, but I can’t imagine doing a deal with Boston to get Miller.
• Two big names that could be traded today: Jon Morosi says there’s growing chatter about David Price, who’s almost certainly not coming to the Yankees, but getting him out of Tampa could be significant down the stretch. Also, Buster Olney reports that there’s a growing chance of Asdrubal Cabrera being traded this afternoon. That would be an interesting target for the Yankees. There aren’t many ways for them to trade for a second base upgrade, but Cabrera might be one. And it would give him a chance to audition for a possible shortstop contract this winter. Disclaimer: His OPS the past two years is just .696. That’s not much better than what Kelly Johnson has done at the plate this season.
Associated Press photo
Deadline Day gets started with news from Jeff Passan, who reports that Jon Lester has been traded to an unknown team. Passan says, however, that Lester is not staying within the American League East. In fact, he’s heading to the West Coast, which suggests either the A’s or the Dodgers.
Quite the opposite of yesterday’s Orioles possibility, this is good news for the Yankees. It would take Lester out of this weekend’s series at Fenway, and it would send him to a team the Yankees won’t face again this season.
UPDATE, 9:51 p.m.: Passan says Lester is going to Oakland, the team that previously added Jeff Samardzija just before the All-Star break. Alex Speier adds that the deal is Lester and Jonny Gomes for Yoenis Cespedes, who’s a free agent after next season. Apparently the Red Sox are also sending money, and the A’s are giving up their competitive balance draft pick.
UPDATE, 10:04 p.m.: The A’s now have an insanely deep pitching staff with Lester, Samardzija, Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez backed by Jason Hammel, Tommy Milone, Drew Pomeranz, and the injured A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker. Wonder if the A’s could flip some of that pitching to get a bat to thoroughly replace Cespedes.
Welcome to Deadline Day • 07.31.14
While acknowledging that the Yankees biggest problem has been their offense — a fact that seems pretty difficult to deny at this point — I’ve generally maintained that their greatest need has been a starting pitcher. I’ve believed that their offense could get better on its own if a few hitters would simply inch closer to their own reasonable expectations. The rotation, on the other hand, has run out of alternatives and can’t hardly afford to put its faith in Michael Pineda’s shoulder and Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow.
But after watching last night’s game, and seeing the games that came before it, it’s hard to think the Yankees can ignore their lineup as today’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline approaches.
“You can look at it, you go on a 13-game stretch and you go five games over or three games over .500,” Joe Girardi said. “But every game that we lost was either by two runs or one run. And all but one of those games in this stretch was a two or one-run game on either side. If we get the consistency in our offense, we’re going to win a lot more.”
Something has to get this lineup going. Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran have shown some promising signs of life, and Brett Gardner has been unreal, but the offense is still unable to get on any sort of roll. Twelve runs one night, two runs on four hits the next night, and there have been a lot more of those two-run games than those 12-run explosions.
Would Marlon Byrd help? What about Josh Willingham or Ryan Ludwick? There seem to be a handful of impact starting pitchers available — and the Yankees certainly can’t ignore them — but the hitting market is relatively thin. Byrd might be the most productive name regularly floated through the rumor mill, and he’s signed through next season with a vesting option for 2016 (plus the Phillies surely recognize that Byrd has significant trade value right now, and they’ll want to take advantage of that to get something out of this disappointing season).
It’s also worth acknowledging that Brian Cashman usually does a good job of working quietly. Does he have an unexpected trick up his sleeve?
“I’ve seen this team play very well at times,” Girardi said. “Our pitching has done a really good job considering what we’ve been through. I do (believe this team can win without a trade). If we consistently score runs, we’re going to win games.”
But is this group ever going to consistently score runs? Of course it’s possible, but isn’t it also possible — or even, relatively easy — to get more power out of the right field position and more overall production out of second base? The trade deadline is just a few hours away, and as thin as the Yankees rotation might be, their lineup is in real need of a boost.
Associated Press photo
The Rangers have the worst team ERA in the American League, and it’s not particularly close. They also have the worst team WHIP in all of baseball. They are not good at pitching, yet in the past 10 days, they’ve faced the Yankees seven times and allowed more than two runs only twice.
“It’s hard to understand with the guys that we’re sending up there,” Joe Girardi said. “But it is what it is, and we’ve got to continue to work at it.”
Tonight, the last 19 Yankees were retired. The first 13 of those consecutive outs came against Colby Lewis, a guy with a 5.98 ERA, and a guy who gave up a leadoff home run and then loaded the bases before getting on a roll. In that first inning, it seemed the Yankees might actually take some momentum from last night and carry it into the trade deadline.
Instead, they’re heading into the deadline with yet another bit of evidence about just how disappointing they’ve been at the plate.
“You come here, try to stay confident and you think that it’s going to turn around,” Derek Jeter said. “I thought we swung the bats well yesterday; today we didn’t. You’d like to get a streak here of some good games where everyone gets hot. That’s what you hope for, but you can’t sit around and wait for it to happen. You have to go out and do it. We have tomorrow off and we need to play a lot better in Boston.”
Compared to the pitching staff, this lineup is remarkably healthy, and it’s already brought in an upgrade at third base. But nights like this are far more common than nights like last night. The pitching has actually been alright. It’s the offense that needs to seriously improve in the final two months of the season.
“Any time you don’t play up to expectations, you’re disappointed in yourself, and it’s surprising,” Brett Gardner said. “We got a lot of time left. We still got plenty of time to turn it around, but we’ve got to. It’s almost August, we got to get things going soon. I’m sure for everybody, it’s a much-needed off day tomorrow in Boston, and be ready to go this weekend.”
• Everything about this game changed after the first inning. The Yankees promising offense went quiet, and Hiroki Kuroda’s struggles went away. He still allowed plenty of base runners, but Kuroda got through the seventh on a night the Yankees badly needed distance. “The movement on my two-seamer wasn’t there, and slider wasn’t sharp as well (in the first inning)” Kuroda said. “Overall, all of my pitches weren’t working, so that’s how I struggled. … I felt like I was not sharp all day, but again, if I hang in there and battle through the game, I knew we would have a chance.”
• Kuroda threw 115 pitches, which was a season-high for him. “He finished strong,” Girardi said. “That’s the farthest we’ve pushed him this year, but we knew we might need to do that a little bit tonight.”
• Silver lining: One night after the Yankees go-to late inning relievers struggled, the only reliever who got into tonight’s game was David Huff, who allowed two walks but ultimately pitched a scoreless innings. Every other reliever will get at least two full days off heading into the weekend Boston series.
• Another home run for Gardner, who hit .571 with four homers, two doubles and six runs in this three-game series. His five home runs against the Rangers are the most by any Texas opponent this season.
• Tonight was Gardner’s fifth career leadoff home run, four of which have come this season, and two of which have come in the past two days. The last Yankees player with a leadoff home run in back-to-back games was — of course — Derek Jeter, who did it August 17-18 against Seattle at old Yankee Stadium.
• Also quietly productive this series: Carlos Beltran. He had multiple hits in ever game this series and has a seven-game hitting streak. The Yankees had only four hits tonight: Beltran’s two singles and solo home runs by Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury.
• Whatever your politics, it’s pretty cool to see a former U.S. president on the field to honor Derek Jeter during a pregame ceremony. “I had heard he was coming to the stadium, but I didn’t know he was going on the field,” Jeter said. “That’s a pretty special feeling when you have a president come out and give you something to honor you. That’s definitely a memory I’ll have for a long time. I’ll be able to brag to a lot of different people.”
• More memorable than any of the gifts Jeter’s received this season? “It’s an experience, you know what I mean?” Jeter said. “That’s a gift within itself. Not too many people can say they’ve had the president come out and honor them in a ceremony. It meant a lot to me.”
• Jeter went 0-for-4 tonight, and in 73 career games at this ballpark he is a .329 hitter with 10 homers and 40 RBI. He’s also a .310 hitter in seven playoff games here. Huge ovations for him all night tonight.
• Gardner got pretty fired up arguing with Ed Hickox after a second-inning strikeout. Gardner seemed to dislike the strikeout call int he eighth as well. “He told me it was a good pitch, you know,” Gardner said. “And I obviously disagreed with him. Didn’t like the 2-0 pitch and didn’t like the last pitch, and that was it.”
• Final word goes to Girardi: “It’s something that I talked about after the break that we needed to be consistent with our offense. It needed to be more consistent. We have a big explosion yesterday, and we get the two solo shots today, and that’s about it. Hiro did a pretty good job after the first inning. He struggled in the first inning and then shut them down. He gave us the distance we needed because of our bullpen, but we need consistency in our offense.”
Associated Press photos
Baseball’s trade deadline is less than 24 hours away, and it’s as clear as ever that the Yankees need some help. One night after scoring in double digits for the first time in three months, the Yankees lineup went quiet again in a 3-2 loss to the Rangers, who have the worst record in all of baseball. The Yankees lost two of three here in Texas and have lost four of five overall. That strong first week after the All-Star break seems like a distant memory. Brett Gardner stayed red hot with yet another leadoff home run — his fourth homer in three days — but a Jacoby Ellsbury solo shot was the only other bit of productive Yankees offense. From the end of the third inning through the end of the ninth, the last 19 straight Yankees batters were retired. Hiroki Kuroda allowed three runs during a rocky 33-pitch first inning, but he managed to last through seven innings without allowing another run. He gave the Yankees a chance to come back, but the lineup once again looked overwhelmed.
Associated Press photo
Game 107: Yankees at Rangers • 07.30.14
RHP Hiroki Kuroda (7-6, 3.99)
Kuroda vs. Rangers
Shin-Soo Choo DH
Elvis Andrus SS
Alex Rios RF
Adrian Beltre 3B
Jim Adduci LF
J.P. Arencibia 1B
Leonys Martin CF
Robinson Chirinos C
Rougned Odor 2B
RHP Colby Lewis (6-8, 6.23)
Lewis vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 8:05 p.m., YES Network
WEATHER: Temperatures might actually get down into the 70s with slight chance of rain.
UMPIRES: HP Ed Hickox, 1B Pat Hoberg, 2B Lance Barrett, 3B Ron Kulpa
BLAME HIS PARENTS: Brett Gardner has nine total bases in each of his last two games (Monday: two homers, one single. Tuesday: One homer, two doubles, one single). It marks just the fifth time a Yankee has had at least nine total bases in consecutive games since 1939 (also Alfonso Soriano last year, Robinson Cano in 2013 and 2005, and Moose Skowron in 1956).
HOMER HAPPY: Yankee batters have hit multiple home runs in each of the last five games (exactly two home runs in each). That’s the team’s longest such streak since a five-game span in June of 2012. The Yankees have not had a longer streak since hitting multiple homers in nine consecutive games in May of 2009.
RANGERS GO PRESIDENTIAL: Hall of Famers are impressive, but tonight the Rangers brought out a former U.S. president to honor Derek Jeter. President George W. Bush was part of the pregame ceremony to recognize Jeter’s final trip to Texas. President Bush presented Jeter with a signed photo of the two of them together during the 2001 World Series. The Rangers also made a $10,000 donation to the Turn 2 Foundation, and former Rangers Michael Young and Ivan Rodriguez gave Jeter a pair of black Italian leather boots.
JUST FOR KICKS: Tonight at Yankee Stadium, the English Premier League champions Manchester City are facing 18-time league champion Liverpool. I know nothing about soccer, but if you’re into it, that seems like a pretty solid event.
UPDATE, 8:10 p.m.: Brett Gardner might be as locked in as a player can possibly be. He’s completely transformed into a different kind of hitter. There’s another leadoff home run to start this game. Unreal.
UPDATE, 8:42 p.m.: Well, it’s been pretty much all downhill since that Gardner home run. The Yankees left the bases loaded to end the top of the first, and then Kuroda was knocked around for three runs in the bottom of the inning. Might see a lot of David Huff tonight. Might even see some Zelous Wheeler pitching action.
UPDATE, 8:56 p.m.: A 1-2-3 second inning for Kuroda. That’s helpful.
UPDATE, 9:03 p.m.: Speedy outfielders hitting home runs. That’s the Yankees strategy to win this one.
UPDATE, 9:14 p.m.: Double play ends the third inning and Kuroda is at 51 pitches, which isn’t so bad considering that first inning.
UPDATE, 9:27 p.m.: Nice job by Chase Headley to get the lead runner on the sac bunt attempt. Kuroda laboring again.
UPDATE, 9:35 p.m.: Rios out as a precaution after that third-inning HBP. Can’t keep a guy in the game who might be traded in the next several hours.
UPDATE, 10:05 p.m.: Kuroda is through six innings. That’s a fine job after the mess of a first inning. Adam Warren was just warming in the Yankees bullpen, so apparently he’s available.
UPDATE, 10:20 p.m.: Kuroda gets two outs in the seventh and Girardi ran to the mound, certainly to tell him that Beltre is his last batter regardless. If Kuroda gets through this, you’d have to consider this a pretty good start. Yankees need some offense. No shock there.
UPDATE, 10:35 p.m.: Here’s David Huff, coming in probably because the Rangers have two lefties due up this inning. Kuroda has given the Yankees a chance to come back, but their past 16 hitters have been retired.
Pregame notes: Another chance for Almonte • 07.30.14
Brian Roberts has sat out three of the past four games. Ichiro Suzuki is sitting his second in a row. Giving Brian McCann a day off seems to be all about keeping him fresh. Sitting Roberts and Ichiro seems more about trying to get them fresh.
“I’m sure it will probably help all of our guys at this point in the season,” Joe Girardi said. “As I’ve said, we have some age on our team, and you feel that you have to manage it. I’ll run (Zoilo) Almonte out there three days in a row and see how he does, and then just go from there.”
The Yankees know what they have in Brendan Ryan, who’s been filling in at second base. He’s a good glove, but not much of a bat. The more interesting replacement here is Almonte, the switch-hitter who’s shown significant power and consistency against right-handed pitching in the minor leagues. His big league numbers weren’t particularly impressive last season, but he does bring a power dynamic that the rest of the Yankees outfielders don’t really have (unless you believe in Brett Gardner’s sudden power surge).
“If he can run into some things it would be helpful,” Girardi said. “We feel it’s a kid that has some talent. When you get an opportunity, if you get hot, you’re going to get more chances, there’s no doubt about it.”
This is Almonte’s third game in a row. He hasn’t played much when he’s been called up previously this season, and it’s hard to say how long this window of opportunity will stay open if he doesn’t do something with it. So far he’s 1-for-8 in this small-sample audition of sorts.
• Although Girardi has talked about Brian Roberts being banged up, Roberts said he doesn’t feel especially bad for this time of year. Girardi just came to him and said he was going to sit for a few days in hopes that the rest would help him. “I don’t know if there’s anybody who’s ever not tired in August, probably,” Roberts said. “I certainly didn’t walk in and tell him I was tired and needed days off. It’s his decision, that’s why managers do what they do. They’re supposed to watch things and make decisions and that sort of stuff. I said, ‘Whatever you want to do is fine.’”
• Go back to the weekend before the All-Star break. Since July 12, Roberts is hitting .171/.209/.195 and Ichiro is hitting .079/.125/.158. Neither has been particularly good this season, but they’ve each been better than that. “I hope (the rest) pays off, sure,” Roberts said. “I’m not 20 anymore. Nobody wants days off, but you trust the people in charge to make decisions that hopefully benefit everybody. Hopefully that’s what happens.”
• The bullpen took a bit of a beating last night, and Girardi said he’ll have to check with each of his key guys to determine which ones will be available tonight. Girardi also mentioned that he had Matt Thornton getting loose twice last night. Even though Thornton didn’t get into last night’s game, there’s a chance he won’t be available. “I’m not sure what I have from him,” Girardi said. “I’ll check with everyone, see how they are.”
• McCann said he feels physically fine. Girardi said he’s just giving McCann a chance to rest leading into the off day. “This way he gets two days off,” Girardi said. “He’s played a lot in the second half, so I’ll give him a day and he gets two days.”
• Is Girardi expecting a new player on his roster by 4 p.m. tomorrow? “Not necessarily, no,” Girardi said. “There’s less than 24 hours, right, if something’s going to happen. You do expect that there’s going to be some movement in baseball. A lot of times there’s more talked about than actually done. Wait to see what happens.”
• The Rangers are having a pregame ceremony for Derek Jeter at 7:40 p.m. ET. Michael Young and Ivan Rodriguez are here to participate. Vernon Wells, who lives here, also stopped by to see his old teammates today. I realize Wells was never popular with the fans — after that hot start, anyway — but he was a good guy in the clubhouse, generally liked and respected in there.
Associated Press photos