The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Looking ahead to the Yankees spring roster battles01.28.15

The Yankees picked Didi Gregorius to be their shortstop. They chose Chase Headley to play third base. Chris Capuano was signed to be the stopgap fifth starter, David Carpenter was added to pitch some key innings of relief, and Garrett Jones was added to back up at three key spots. We know these things because the Yankees roster seems more or less set at this point.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some position battles to watch for in spring training.

This morning’s Pinch Hitter post was all about the final out, which led to a post about who should be the Yankees closer. But choosing which reliever should handle the ninth inning isn’t the only roster decision the Yankees have to make this spring. Here are a few roster competitions to keep in mind:

Alex RodriguezThe lineup

1. Who starts at second base?
Right now it looks like Stephen Drew, but that doesn’t seem set in stone. Far from it, actually. A one-year deal worth $5 million doesn’t necessarily guarantee a player’s spot in the starting lineup. There a ways to get creative with the roster, and if either Jose Pirela or Rob Refsnyder is too good to ignore, the Yankees might have to make some adjustments. Second base has a favorite heading into camp, but it doesn’t have a sure thing.

2. Is Alex Rodriguez really the designated hitter?
No one knows what to expect from this guy, which means this question goes two ways. Is it possible he could play so well that he’s more of a third baseman who gets quite a bit of time at DH? Also, is it possible that he’s so bad he can’t be trusted with regular at-bats in any role? At the very least, with Garrett Jones offering a left-handed alternative, a DH platoon seems possible. There seems to be at least some chance Rodriguez can’t stick on the roster, much less play every day.

3. What’s the shortstop situation?
Clearly the Yankees want Didi Gregorius to be their regular shortstop. Ideally, he’ll hit well enough to play against both lefties and righties, but at the very least he should be the starter against right-handed pitching. That said, the Yankees do have Drew in camp. If Gregorius falls flat on his face, could Drew take the job? It’s not remotely ideal, but there are two veteran shortstops who will provide alternatives at the position.

Yankees Blue Jays BaseballThe rotation

1. Who starts on Opening Day?
It’s not really a roster battle, so maybe this is a weak argument. But it’s certainly going to be a discussion at some point. Whether you like him on the mound or not, CC Sabathia is definitely a leader in the clubhouse, and his role as leader of the pitching staff might win him another turn on Opening Day. Masahiro Tanaka, though, is the clear ace. Frankly, the answer to this question might have more to do with health than anything else.

2. Is Chris Capuano really the No. 5 starter?
Brian Cashman has made it clear that Capuano was signed to be a starting pitcher. He’s coming to camp with a rotation spot. But logic seems to dictate that someone could force the Yankees to change their plans. What if Adam Warren works as a starter in spring training and looks fantastic? Same for Bryan Mitchell or Esmil Rogers. What about Luis Severino? Is it possible the Yankees top pitching prospect — or anyone else — could force the Yankees to change their minds at the back of the rotation?

3. What’s the sixth starter situation?
This could have an impact on another roster spot. Let’s say a guy like Chase Whitley pitches extremely well in spring training and could make the team as a long reliever, but he also looks like their best bet to make a spot start should someone get hurt early in the season. Would the Yankee carry Whitley in the bullpen or send him to Triple-A to stay stretch out? Same question for a guy like Mitchell or Jose De Paula.

John Ryan MurphyThe bench

1. Who’s the backup catcher?
Perhaps the second most obvious position battle in camp. The Yankees traded away Francisco Cervelli specifically to open a big league job for one of their young catching prospects. Logic says that John Ryan Murphy is the heavy favorite after he won the backup role last year while Cervelli was hurt, but Austin Romine has big league experience, some prospect potential of his own, and he’s out of options. Can he beat the odds and win the job?

2. Is Brendan Ryan really the backup infielder?
The Yankees signed Ryan to give themselves some much-needed shortstop depth for the immediate future. He backed up Derek Jeter last year, and right now he’s positioned to back up Gregorius. But with Drew also in the mix, the Yankees could cut ties with Ryan, carry Gregorius and Drew as their shortstops, and make room for either Pirela or Refsnyder or anyone else who plays too well to leave behind. Ryan seems to be going into spring training with a roster spot, but does that have to mean he’ll leave with one?

3. What’s the outfield situation?
We know the five names: Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Chris Young and Garrett Jones. Those seem to be the big league outfielders — a group that bring flexibility and balance and leaves a couple of decent pinch hitters on the bench. But given all of the outfield depth in the upper levels of the minor league system, is it possible for someone else to sneak into the picture? Ramon Flores, maybe? Tyler Austin? Injury could obviously open a door, but that’s always the case. The question is whether a Triple-A outfielder could play his way to New York without an injury.

Esmil RogersThe bullpen

1. Who’s the seventh reliever?
I wrote that backup catcher is the second most obvious position battle. That’s because this is the most obvious. If the Yankees stick with their projected rotation, that will leave six obvious favorites for the bullpen, meaning there’s one spot that’s completely up for grabs. And it really does seem to be a wide open competition. Maybe a lefty like Chasen Shreve, a long man like Chase Whitley, a hard-thrower like Chris Martin, a prospect like Jacob Lindgren, or a total wild card like Andrew Bailey. This is the one roster spot that’s completely up the air (unless the Yankees sign a veteran closer between now and Opening Day).

2. Is Esmil Rogers really guaranteed a spot?
He has some guaranteed money tied to his new contract, but does that mean the Yankees have to stick with a guy who’s never really had sustained success in the big leagues? Clearly the Yankees think Rogers can help them — either as a spot starter or a long reliever or in short stints — but there are so many bullpen options coming to camp, it’s Rogers whose spot seems most uncertain. He’s penciled in for now. By mid March, he might not be.

3. What’s the closer situation?
This was addressed earlier today, but it’s too obvious to leave off of this list. For the first time in a long, long time, the Yankees are heading into spring training without a clear closer (even last year, Dave Robertson was the obvious choice even before he took the job). Could the Yankees choice of a closer — if it’s not Dellin Betances or Andrew Miller — impact the way they build the rest of their bullpen? Could they make a late decision to add an experienced closer to the mix?

Associated Press photos

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In defense of Chris Capuano01.19.15

Yankees Blue Jays Baseball

He’s the standard tweet, comment or email that consistently makes me roll my eyes: The Yankees make a relatively minor signing — a bench player or other depth move — and the reaction is something sarcastic about the Yankees really being contenders now. The implication is that any move that doesn’t involve a superstar or a massive difference maker, isn’t worth making at all, as if the choice were between signing Chris Young or Mike Trout, and the Yankees somehow preferred Young.

Some players are simply expected to play a role, not alter the franchise. Chris Capuano is one of those guys.

When I asked this morning whether the Yankees needed to acquire more pitching depth — clearly any additional depth couldn’t hurt — one of the responses I got was: Just someone better than Capuano for the (No.) 5.

In my mind, Capuano might not be the least of the Yankees problems, but he’s certainly near the bottom. He was actually pretty good last season, giving the Yankees 12 starts with a 4.25 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 3.85 FIP. Could he repeat those numbers this season? Sure he could. In fact, those numbers are almost perfectly in line with his career performance (his strikeout rate, walk rate and home run rate were also basically the same as his career numbers).

Capuano’s not elite, but the Yankees aren’t treating him as if he’s elite. In an ideal world, he’s a two-month placeholder for Ivan Nova. In a less-than-ideal world, he’s cheap rotation depth should someone else get hurt. He’s potentially helpful, ultimately disposable, and any significant upgrade would likely cost a lot more money or a significant prospect. Is that really a worthwhile commitment to possibly upgrade the No. 5 starter?

To me, Capuano falls in line with the other short-term investments meant to fill a hole, not necessarily tip the scales. A one-year deal with Stephen Drew adds short-term infield depth and doesn’t have to block any sort of long-term solution. Brendan Ryan is shortstop insurance, giving the Yankees at guy who has at least proven himself to be a good defender as a position where defense is crucial. Chris Martin is a hard-throwing reliever who might provide some cheap bullpen depth, and there’s little indication that the Yankees are counting on him for key outs.

Capuano’s an experienced bit of rotation depth. That’s it. If he gives the Yankees 12 starts like the ones he provided last season, he will have done his job. Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow, Michael Pineda’s shoulder, CC Sabathia’s effectiveness, Nathan Eovaldi’s transition and Nova’s recovery should be far greater concerns in the rotation. The fact Capuano is getting $5 million to plug that hole in the fifth spot might not be flashy or ideal, but it’s hardly the worst thing about this roster.

Associated Press photo

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With Scherzer off the market, do the Yankees need more pitching?01.19.15

Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova

Has anything changed for the Yankees in the wake of Max Scherzer’s new deal with the Nationals?

Since the fall, Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner created the public perception of fiscal restraint. With a bunch of big contracts (and big mistakes) already filling the payroll, the Yankees never positioned themselves as a favorite for Scherzer. Any thought to the contrary was based on past examples of the Yankees spending unexpected money for Scherzer-type players, but there was never any evidence that they were going to get involved this time.

In that way, nothing has changed. The Yankees weren’t supposed to get Scherzer, and they didn’t.

But with Scherzer off the market, the winter’s most popular “what if” scenario is off the board, leaving the Yankees with a rotation that is what it is.

Michael PinedaTop five starters
Masahiro Tanaka
Michael Pineda
CC Sabathia
Nathan Eovaldi
Chris Capuano
These five have been in place since late December when the Yankees completed the trade for Eovaldi. Three of these players are in their mid-20s, and one exception is on a one-year, stop-gap contract. Even so, there’s such injury concern at the top that this rotation seems unreliable at best.

Major League depth
Adam Warren
Esmil Rogers
Ivan Nova
According to plan, Warren and Rogers should be relievers this season, but each has been a starter in the past — Rogers worked as a starter this winter — and so they could provide immediate rotation depth in spring training. Nova is expected back from Tommy John surgery around June or so.

Minor league depth
Chase Whitley
Bryan Mitchell
Jose De Paula
Luis Severino
Whitley made 12 big league starts last season, but unless he wins a spot as a long man in the big league bullpen, he seems likely to land in the Triple-A rotation with Mitchell and De Paula (each of whom is currently on the 40-man). Severino is not on the 40-man and has just 25 innings above A ball, but he’s talented enough to potentially pitch his way into the mix. Can’t completely rule out guys like Matt Tracy and Zach Nuding, who could round out the Triple-A rotation, or a guy like Jaron Long, who’s likely heading for Double-A but made a huge impression last season.

CC SabathiaQuestion is: Is this enough? The top five looks perfectly good, but that’s only if its healthy. There are plenty of alternatives in the mix, but each one seems to come with significant uncertainty (about upside, about health, about ability to consistently start at the big league level). So if the Yankees want to upgrade their rotation — either adding talent up top or adding depth at the bottom — what are their options?

1. Spend big – There’s still one high-end starter on the market, and he has a history of success in the American League East. But if the Yankees weren’t interested in Scherzer, what are the chances they’ll become interested in James Shields? He’s already 33, so his next contract is likely to carry him into his late 30s, which seems awfully risky at this point.

2. Take a chance – Beyond Shields, the free agent market really doesn’t have a reliable starter still available. Instead, the Yankees could roll the dice on a small contract — perhaps even a minor league deal with a non-roster invitation — with a veteran starting pitcher who comes with serious warts. Johan Santana recently got some attention, but guys like Chad Billingsley, Roberto Hernandez and Chris Young are also still out there.

3. Sacrifice the farm – The Yankees clearly prefer to keep their top prospects at this point, but they don’t have to. Cole Hamels is clearly available and signed to a contract that seems perfectly reasonable compared to Scherzer, but it would likely take a massive package to get him. The Nationals are reportedly not pushing to trade Jordan Zimmermann, but he might be available. Is it worth giving up some of the future to add a pitcher for the present?

4. Wait and see – Nothing says the Yankees have to make a change right now. Last season, they managed to rebuild a rotation on the fly, and they could try to do the same this year if necessary. They could go into spring training with this group and adjust only if/when one of those top five starters goes down. If that doesn’t happen until May, they might have Nova ready to step in. If it happens in August, Severino might be ready.

Associated Press photos

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On the 40-man: Chris Capuano01.16.15

Chris Capuano

Continuing our one-by-one look at everyone on the Yankees 40-man roster, we’ll next move to a left-handed pitcher who seemed to be a short-term fill in last season, but wound up pitching well enough that the Yankees brought him in as a little rotation insurance this season.

Capuano (2)CHRIS CAPUANO

Age on Opening Day: 36
Acquired: Originally acquired in July; re-signed in December
Added to the 40-man: Officially added December 16

In the past: An eighth-round pick back in 1999, Capuano has built a solid 10-year career that includes one All-Star selection and more than 220 big league starts. He opened last season as a reliever with the Red Sox, but upon being released, he joined the Rockies as a minor league starter for a few days before the Yankees went after him to plug yet another hole in their wounded 2014 rotation. He provided much-needed stability with a 4.25 ERA through the end of the season.

Role in 2015: Once again short-handed in the rotation, the Yankees have once again turned to Capuano as a cheap fill-in starter. He was signed to a one-year, $5-million deal, and general manager Brian Cashman has never left any doubt that Capuano is penciled into the Opening Day rotation. When he signed, Capuano was basically the fourth starter, but the Yankees have since added Nathan Eovaldi, putting Capuano in the No. 5 starter role for which he seems pretty well suited. Could be nothing more than a placeholder until Ivan Nova returns from the disabled list.

Best case scenario: Less is more. If all goes well, the Yankees will have Nova back from Tommy John surgery within the first two months or so. That leaves Capuano with about 10 starts to hold down the fort. He made 12 starts for the Yankees last year, and if he can perfectly repeat those results, the Yankees should be pretty happy. He doesn’t have to lead the rotation, he just has to be solid for a while. A short burst of stability would be about as good as it can get.

Worst case scenario: Four times in his career, Capuano has made at least 30 starts in a season. In each of those seasons, he’s finished with double-digit wins, and in three of the four he’s had an ERA of 4.03 or better (last time he did that was as recent as 2012, a pretty nice year with the Dodgers). Capuano is probably a little better than he gets credit for being, but even so, another 30-start year from Capuano would mean something didn’t go quite right. He might be able to more than hold his own with a full season’s worth of starts, but the Yankees would rather their other, younger starters be healthy enough to make Capuano unnecessary at some point.

What the future holds: Capuano turns 37 in August, he throws left-handed, and he just might have a few more years in him in this familiar role as a spot starter, long reliever or bullpen lefty. But the Yankees surely will have little room for him beyond this season. Given the overwhelming amount of left-handed bullpen depth they’ve acquired in the past 12 months, and their obvious desire to get younger, this is likely Capuano’s final stint with the Yankees. And it might not even last the whole year.

Associated Press photo

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Can the Yankees find enough rotation depth with what they already have?01.09.15

CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova

So the Yankees had their catching depth in place before the offseason started, they filled one outfield weakness with the early Chris Young signing, and they’ve built infield depth throughout the winter. They’ve also added a surprising amount of bullpen depth considering they’ve lost two key relievers along the way.

What’s left — assuming they really aren’t going to splurge at any point — is to possibly add some rotation depth between now and the start of spring training, but the free agent market hasn’t helped the Yankees in that regard. Injury prone Brandon McCarthy got a whopping four years, total wild card Brett Anderson got a whopping $10 million, and the decisions that led to Kenta Maeda and Hiroki Kuroda pitching in Japan this season robbed the market of two solid, mid-rotation possibilities.

Now the best non-Scherzer, non-Shields starter left on the market is who? Ryan Vogelsong? Chad Billingsley? Maybe the Yankees will break form and make a surprising run at Max Scherzer or James Shields, or maybe they’ll blow up the youth movement and trade for Cole Hamels, but right now neither of those seems overwhelmingly likely. Could happen, but it would require a change of course. At this point, the Yankees seem more likely to make a major splash with a young international player rather than an established big league veteran.

So where could the rotation depth come from? First, here’s what the rotation depth looks like right now:

Michael PinedaFIRST FIVE
Masahiro Tanaka
Michael Pineda
CC Sabathia
Nathan Eovaldi
Chris Capuano
Same group that’s been in place since the Eovaldi trade. The good and the bad of this group is well documented.

TRIPLE-A
Jose De Paula
Bryan Mitchell
Chase Whitley
Matt Tracy
Zach Nuding
Something like this, anyway. Losing Manny Banuelos took away arguably the biggest name who seemed ticketed for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Can’t rule out the possibility of Luis Severino making a push for this group (but we’ll get to that in a bit). 

So where else can the Yankees find internal rotation depth. Here are three basic ideas that involve three specific players:

Adam WarrenAdam Warren — The “prioritize the rotation” approach
Basically, rob from the bullpen to give to the rotation. By going into camp with Warren getting stretched out and pitching on the same schedule as the five projected starting pitchers, the Yankees would give themselves an in-place sixth starter throughout the spring. Warren would be the immediate insurance should someone get hurt before Opening Day (which isn’t, you know, a crazy notion). Keeping him stretched out all spring would basically mean trusting that he could easily fall back into his bullpen role without really practicing it during the exhibitions. Could do something similar with Esmil Rogers.

Ivan Nova – The “trust the kids for a while” approach
There’s been no indication this offseason that Nova’s rehab from Tommy John surgery has fallen off the tracks. He could be ready in May or June, and if he’s still progressing toward a relatively early return, the Yankees could bank on Nova as the big boost while trusting guys like Mitchell, De Paula and Whitley to hold down the fort should a starting pitcher go down in April. Of course, putting much faith in Nova requires not only trusting the young guys, it also means trusting Nova’s elbow to be big league ready one year after surgery. Some pitchers say it takes more like two years to feel back to 100 percent.

Luis Severino – The “get really greedy” approach
Last season, the Yankees top pitching prospect started the season in Low-A and finished in Double-A, where he had a 2.52 ERA and 1.04 WHIP to go with 29 strikeouts in six starts. Severino was awesome, and even though he’s still really young — turns 21 in February — he just might be the kind of guy who could grab everyone’s attention in big league camp, push to open the year in Triple-A, dazzle at that level and be in the big leagues within a few months. The Yankees could bank on Severino’s talent, believing that their system is ready to provide more than a fill-in rotation stopgap here and there. In Severino, the Yankees could see a legitimate 2015 big leaguer, and maybe a really good one.

Associated Press photos

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The lingering impact of the Yankees second-half additions12.18.14

Chris Capuano

By my count, the Yankees added 10 brand new players to the big league roster — players who had not been in the organization when the season started — between the July 15 All-Star Game and the end of the regular season.

Second-half moves like that happen every year as teams try to plug holes here and there, but the Yankees’ second-half additions stand out because of just how many have either re-signed, stayed on the roster, or otherwise impacted the organization going forward. This list isn’t made entirely of lingering players, but there are lot of them.

Chase HeadleyLHP Rich Hill – Signed to a minor league deal immediately after the all-star break, Hill was allowed to leave via free agency this offseason. Perhaps his lasting impact is the fact he was the guy called up when the Yankees let go of Matt Thornton on waivers. That was a money saving move, and having Hill in Triple-A presumably made it a little easier (there really wasn’t another lefty to bring up before Hill was added to the mix).

3B Chase Headley – Seems safe to assume Headley would have been on the Yankees radar this offseason regardless of his second-half stint in pinstripes, but the Yankees clearly liked what they saw, and Headley has acknowledged that he enjoyed the New York experience more than he expected. Would these two have found common ground without that late-season audition? Maybe not.

LHP Chris Capuano – The Yankees were desperate for a starting pitcher, and Capuano was available. He had been released and was pitching in Triple-A when the Yankees acquired him, and he pitched like a good No. 5 during his 12-start stint as a rotation replacement. As other rotation options came off the table earlier this month, the Yankees eventually found their way back to the guy who pitched better than expected late in the season.

Martin Prado2B Martin Prado – Of all the names on the list, this is the only one clearly intended to be a long-term fix. The Yankees planned to use Prado in the outfield last season, but he wound up playing all over the field, and it was that versatility that made him a strong fit going forward. His ability to play second base has freed the Yankees to re-sign Headley, and Prado’s ability to play the outfield might eventually free them to add Rob Refsnyder.

SS Stephen Drew – Perhaps this was the audition that had the opposite impact of Headley. Finishing off a strange year in which he signed late and missed spring training, Drew came to the Yankees at the trade deadline with the expectation that he could learn and new position and improve his offensive numbers. The first part was no problem — Drew looked good at second — but the offense never got better. It seems telling that Drew’s still on the free agent market.

RHP Esmil Rogers – A waiver claim at the trade deadline, Rogers showed moments of promise mixed with moments that explained why he was so readily available in the first place. As the season was winding down, Rogers didn’t have a defined role and he entered this offseason as a prime non-tender candidate. The Yankees, though, got him to take a pay cut as they prepare to give him one more look as either a long man, a one-inning reliever, or possibly a starter.

Chris YoungOF Chris Young — This move was easy to mock at the time. Young, after all, had been released by the Mets earlier in the season and there seemed little chance that such a castaway would play any sort of role with the Yankees. But he signed a minor league deal, got a September call-up, hit a few home runs, and wound up with a new one-year deal as the team’s fourth outfielder. That late signing might have made all the difference.

LHP Josh Outman – Basically added to the mix because he seemed like a better left-on-left option than Hill, but late in the year it was Hill getting more of the prime matchup situations, and Outman wound up dumped back into free agency. Hard to remember Outman was ever on the roster in the first place.

RHP Chaz Roe – A late acquisition turned September call-up, Roe is a former first-round pick who pitched two innings for the Yankees, walked three guys, allowed three hits, gave up two earned runs and was never heard from again.

OF Eury Perez – End-of-the-season waiver claim who got 10 at-bats before the end of the season. He might have been let go this winter, but Perez was given an extra option and now seems likely to open the season in Triple-A as a bit of right-handed outfield depth. He has some speed to go with a .360 on-base percentage in the minors. Probably not a guy who’s going to play a significant role going forward, but he’s still in the mix at this point.

Associated Press photos

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The good news, the bad news, and the Yankees rotation12.17.14

CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova

The good news is, the Yankees added some rotation depth yesterday. The bad news is, it wasn’t by acquiring a front-end starter to make everyone feel better about the health concerns at the top of the rotation.

By re-signing Chris Capuano, the Yankees brought in an experienced lefty who pitched well in a fifth starter role last year. The good news is that he’s probably a little better than you’re thinking (his career numbers are nearly identical to the rock-solid results he put up with the Yankees last season), but the bad news is that the Yankees rotation still has an opening and is still crowded with uncertainty heading into next season.

Here’s a look at the Yankees starters in place — and the ones set to compete for a spot — as we move ever closer to pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training. As you might expect, with each one there’s some good news and some bad news.

Masahiro TanakaMASAHIRO TANAKA
Good news: Cy Young and Rookie of the Year candidate through his first three months in the big leagues.
Bad news: Slightly torn elbow ligament suggests Tommy John surgery is a real threat as early as spring training.

MICHAEL PINEDA
Good news: Finally joined the Yankees staff with a 1.89 ERA last season.
Bad news: That stellar ERA came in just 13 starts because of another shoulder issue.

CC SABATHIA
Good news: Says he feels strong this winter; more than 200 innings in 2013 and a 3.38 ERA as recently as 2012.
Bad news: Coming back from knee surgery with a not-so-encouraging 4.87 ERA the past two seasons.

IVAN NOVA
Good news: Farm system success story had a 3.10 ERA (and an especially good second half) in his last healthy season.
Bad news: Had Tommy John surgery after just four starts last season; not expected to be ready for Opening Day.

CHRIS CAPUANO
Good news: Solid No. 5 starter with a 4.25 ERA in 12 starts with the Yankees last season.
Bad news: Had been released and was pitching in Triple-A when the Yankees got him in July.

Phelps (3)DAVID PHELPS
Good news: Was on a roll before a upper elbow injury (believed to be minor) pushed him to the DL last season.
Bad news: In three seasons has never quite established himself as a go-to member of the rotation.

ADAM WARREN
Good news: Coming off a terrific, breakout season with a 2.97 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP.
Bad news: Truly emerged as a one-inning setup man; has just three major-league starts on his resume.

ESMIL ROGERS
Good news: Showed flashes of promise late last year including a five-inning, one-run spot start in August.
Bad news: That promise has not consistently translated, leaving Rogers a 5.54 career ERA with four different teams before the age of 30.

Yankees Blue Jays BaseballCHASE WHITLEY
Good news: Long-time minor league reliever emerged with a 2.56 ERA through his first seven major league starts last season.
Bad news: Had a 9.00 ERA through his next five starts, falling out of the rotation and back into the bullpen.

BRYAN MITCHELL
Good news: Long touted for talent that exceeded his stats, Mitchell’s results were actually pretty impressive in his brief big league cameo.
Bad news: He’s still a 24 year old with a 4.45 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP through five minor league seasons; never with as many as 150 innings.

MANNY BANUELOS
Good news: One of the top pitching prospects in the system and one of the best in baseball before Tommy John surgery.
Bad news: Inconsistent with a 4.11 ERA and just 76.2 innings in his return from surgery last season.

JOSE DE PAULA
Good news: Hard-throwing lefty impressed the Yankees enough to land a major-league contract this winter.
Bad news: Has never actually pitched in the major leagues and has just 51.1 innings of so-so Triple-A experience.

Associated Press photos

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Cashman: Capuano has a spot in the rotation12.16.14

Yankees Blue Jays Baseball

The Yankees have officially announced the Chris Capuano signing, and general manager Brian Cashman has made it clear that Capuano is meant to fill a rotation spot, not simply add a rotation possibility.

“He’s coming in as one of our starters,” Cashman said.

So that’s four spots essentially filled right now: Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia and Capuano. The Yankees expect Ivan Nova back from Tommy John by June at the latest, and for now, they’re looking at a list of predictable candidate to fill the fifth spot.

Cashman specifically named David Phelps, Adam Warren, Bryan Mitchell, Chase Whitley and Jose De Paula as rotation possibilities. Esmil Rogers, Cashman said, could also emerge as a rotation candidate. There’s a chance Manny Banuelos could pitch his way into that mix in spring training, but the Yankees aren’t counting on it.

“He could become an option probably sometime more in season than to start the season,” Cashman said, “because he didn’t have a very good coming out party after the Tommy John. … But I still have high hopes for him.”

Unless Japanese starter Kenta Maeda is posted — and there’s little guarantee the Yankees would bid on him — the free agent market seems to have lost most of its mid-rotation possibilities. With Brandon McCarthy getting a four-year deal and Brett Anderson getting $10 million guaranteed, a few potential bargain candidates wound up signing significant contracts, and the Yankees are still saying they have no plans to enter the bidding for Max Scherzer because of the money and years attached (I’ve heard recently that the Yankees also didn’t enter the bidding for some guys like Anderson because they were told early on how much it would cost).

Hiroki Kuroda remains a possibility, but Cashman said he still hasn’t heard whether Kuroda wants to come back next season.

“I think it’s safe to assume we are open to any legitimate possibilities to improve our club,” Cashman said. “Obviously making sense in the current circumstances that we have. … The preference would be to never have to go to the free agent market to get what you need, but that’s just not realistic.”

Associated Press photo

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Yankees bring back Chris Capuano12.16.14

Capuano (2)A source has confirmed Jack Curry’s report that the Yankees have re-signed lefty Chris Capuano to a one-year deal worth $5 million.

Capuano pitched well for the Yankees last season, providing solid rotation depth late in the season. He made 12 starts with a 4.25 ERA, and it seems Capuano will come into spring training to provide a little rotation depth (maybe a place holder until Ivan Nova comes off the disabled list).

Another source has confirmed Capuano will show up in spring training to work as a starting pitcher.

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Former Yankees selected for next week’s Japan All-Star Series11.07.14

Robinson Cano

Major League Baseball and the Players Association today announced the full roster that will travel for next week’s Japan All-Star Series against Japan’s national team. There are no current Yankees on the squad — the one listed as a Yankees player is Chris Capuano, who’s currently a free agent — but the team is filled with former Yankees including Robinson Cano, Mark Melancon, Eduardo Nunez, Randy Choate and Jose Veras.

Here’s the roster that’s going to Japan:

Chris CapuanoPITCHERS
Jeff Beliveau (TB)
Jerry Blevins (WSH)
Chris Capuano (NYY)
Randy Choate (STL)
Jeremy Guthrie (KC)
Tommy Hunter (BAL)
Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA)
Mark Melancon (PIT)
Franklin Morales (COL)
Hector Santiago (LAA)
Matt Shoemaker (LAA)
Jose Veras (HOU)
Tsuyoshi Wada (CHI)
Rob Wooten (MIL)

CATCHERS
Drew Butera (LAD)
Erik Kratz (KC)
Salvador Perez (KC)

INFIELDERS
Jose Altuve (HOU)
Robinson Cano (SEA)
Alcides Escobar (KC)
Evan Longoria (TB)
Justin Morneau (COL)
Eduardo Nunez (MIN)
Carlos Santana (CLE)

OUTFIELDERS
Chris Carter (HOU)
Lucas Duda (NYM)
Dexter Fowler (HOU)
Yasiel Puig (LAD)
Ben Zobrist (TB)

Here’s the schedule

DATE

MLB NETWORK BROADCAST TIME

(Live/Re-Air)
*All times ET

GAME INFORMATION

Tue., November 11th

4 a.m. / 9 p.m.

Exhibition vs. Hanshin Tigers / Yomiuri Giants at Koshien

Wed., November 12th

4 a.m. / 9 p.m.

Game #1 at Kyocera Dome, Osaka

Fri., November 14th

4 a.m. / 9 p.m.

Game #2 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo

Sat., November 15th

4 a.m. / 9 p.m.

Game #3 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo

Sun., November 16th

4 a.m. / 9 p.m.

Game #4 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo

Tue., November 18th

5 a.m. / 9 p.m.

Game #5 at Sapporo Dome, Sapporo

Thu., November 20th

4 a.m. / 9 p.m.

Exhibition Game vs. Team Japan, Okinawa

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

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