The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Winter ball notes: Adonis Garcia getting hot, Esmil Rogers getting started12.19.14

Indians Yankees Baseball

I had this post planned before the Yankees got busy making moves. If you’re interested in things not involving the loss of Martin Prado and the addition of a young starter, here are a few updates from winter ball:

• A little less than two weeks ago, Esmil Rogers reported and began pitching a little bit in the Dominican Republic. Rogers has made three appearances this winter, and all three have been starts. His first start was pretty good (four innings, six strikeouts, one earned run), his second was brutal (2.2 innings, six hits, five earned runs), and his most recent start was outstanding. On Thursday, Rogers went five scoreless innings with one hit, one walk and 10 strikeouts. Brian Cashman has mentioned Rogers as a potential rotation candidate in spring training, so the fact he’s getting stretched out this winter seems at least mildly significant.

Garcia• Because of the Winter Meetings, it’s now been two weeks since we did one of these winter ball updates, and in that time, Adonis Garcia has gone nuts at the plate. He has six multi-hit games — and 18 hits total — in his past 12 games. Three of those hits have been home runs and five have been doubles. Garcia wasn’t having a particularly good winter down in Venezuela, but now he’s hitting .305/.356/.450 while spending all of his time in left field and right field (not time in the infield this winter). The Yankees Triple-A outfield will be crowded next season, but Garcia’s an interesting right-handed bat.

• Speaking of that crowded Triple-A outfield, Ramon Flores continues to put up great numbers while getting his first dose of significant winter playing time. As the regular left fielder for the Tigres de Aragua, Flores has a .320/.403/.456 slash line with nearly as many walks (24) as strikeouts (28). In his past five games, Flores has walked five times and struck out only once. Flores has gotten a little bit of time in center field and right field this winter, and he could be an interesting bench option for the Yankees at some point next season.

• And while we’re speaking of bench options, it seems Jose Pirela is a legitimate favorite to win a spot as a big league reserve next season. And his production this winter is doing nothing to diminish his chances. While playing mostly second base and third base — he’s gotten a little bit of time in the outfield corners, but he’s mostly played the two spots where he could most easily backup in New York — Pirela has hit .313/.415/.560 in Venezuela. After not stealing a bag all winter, he now has one stolen base in each of his past two games. He’s also has exactly as many walks (24) as strikeouts (24).

Castillo• Pirela’s winter ball teammate, Ali Castillo, has seen his numbers slide a little bit, but he’s still having a nice winter while getting time at shortstop, second base, third base, left field and designated hitter. Castillo has five hits in his past nine games, but two of those were triples and two were doubles, so he’s still hitting .299/.342/.397. Castillo was the regular shortstop in Trenton last season, but it’s worth wondering if the Yankees offseason minor league additions will crowd him out of a Triple-A promotion next season.

• Acquired late last season and so far kept on the 40-man roster for outfield depth, Eury Perez has seen his winter go from bad to worse. He opened the season as the regular left fielder and leadoff hitter for Leones del Escogido in the Dominican Winter League. He’s since lost his everyday job, and in a part-time role his bat has gone completely silent. Perez hasn’t had a hit since November 18, going 0-for-19 while playing very sparingly. In those past 19 at-bats, he’s struck out seven times, and he currently has 21 strikeouts with no walks this winter. He’s hitting .194/.202/.258 and he’s been caught stealing the two times he’s tried to swipe a bag.

• Outfielder Adam Silva has barely played in regular season minor league games since joining the Yankees in 2013, but this winter he’s getting some regular at-bats back home in Australia. The 20-year-old is hitting .270/.343/.365 as a regular right fielder.

• Just when reliever Diego Moreno was getting on a roll again in Venezuela, he’s hit another rough path. Since our last update, Moreno’s pitched just three times and has allowed six earned runs on five hits, a walk and a hit batter. His winter ERA is up to 5.40 with a 1.45 WHIP and a .291 opponents’ batting average. He does have at least one strikeout in 10 straight outings.

Associated Press photo

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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The impact of the Yankees re-signing Esmil Rogers12.03.14

Indians Yankees Baseball

It’s often difficult to determine a team’s non-tender plans involving prospects. Organizational decision makers are obviously hesitant to spread negative information about their own young players, and those same decisions makers are weighing a prospect’s potential against the needs and restrictions of a 40-man roster.

Injured prospects are always at risk of being non-tendered (which helps explain the Yankees decisions on Slade Heathcott and Jose Campos), as are prospects who have not advanced as expected toward the big leagues (that’s Campos) and prospects who have essentially been surpassed by similar players in the system (that’s Heathcott).

While last night’s decisions might have come as a surprise — it’s always a bit surprising to see these decisions with former top prospects — it’s hard to be truly stunned by them. Prospects have to develop, and those two really didn’t.

The non-tender surprises, though, really started with the new contract for Esmil Rogers, a relief pitcher who seemed expendable and stood out as the most obvious non-tender candidate on the roster. Using the wildly accurate MLB Trade Rumors projections, Rogers was expected to earn roughly $1.9 million in this second year of arbitration. Instead, according to Jon Heyman, the Yankees got him to agree to $750,000 guaranteed with the potential to earn up to $1.48 million. Think of it as kind of a middle ground between the non-tender and the typical arbitration process.

It was not exactly what was expected, which means it mildly changed some things going forward.

Three reasons Rogers seemed to be a strong non-tender candidate:

1. The roster: The Yankees 40-man roster stood at 39 players with a shortstop, third baseman, starting pitcher and relief pitcher still on the shopping list. Non-tendering Rogers was a way to open a roster spot for someone else.

2. The money: At slightly less than $2 million, Rogers’ expected salary for next season wasn’t much, but it was enough to be worth saving if possible. Why sign a deal if the team knows it’s going to cut the player?

3. The bullpen: Assuming the Yankees add a true late-inning reliever, the bullpen seemed to have six logical pieces already in place without Rogers (Betances, Kelley, Warren, Wilson, Phelps, and a new guy). That left one spot open for spring competition among a few young guys and probably a non-roster veteran or two, which meant the Yankees didn’t absolutely need Rogers.

So what’s the impact of keeping Rogers?

1. The roster: Rogers now has a roster spot that could have gone to someone else. Could have gone to Heathcott, for example, or it could go to the new shortstop (whoever that is). Obviously the Yankees could DFA Rogers at some point, but if it’s as simple as that, then a non-tender was the way to go. Re-signing Rogers suggests he’s higher on the pecking order than some of the younger guys. At some point — either this winter or next season — the Yankees are probably going to have to open a roster spot, which means someone’s going to have to go. Is it going to be the guy they just signed? Probably not.

2. The money: After making $1.85 million last season, Rogers was projected to earn $1.9 million for next season. That’s more than David Phelps is projected to make and only slightly less than Michael Pineda. Instead, he’s guaranteed only slightly more than the minimum, and his financial upside is still fairly small. Clearly the Yankees like him too much to simply let him go for nothing. Amazingly enough, if he maxes out the contract, Rogers could be the second-highest-paid reliever among players on the current roster. Only Shawn Kelley is expected to make more.

3. The bullpen: At this point, Rogers has to be considered a favorite for a spot on the Opening Day roster. Clearly that could change between now and then, but Rogers would have been non-tendered if the Yankees didn’t think he had a good chance to make the roster. Put a free agent in the ninth inning, then put Kelley, Dellin Betances and Adam Warren in various setup roles, make Justin Wilson the go-to lefty, and treat Phelps and Rogers as long relievers and middle-inning guys. That could be the Opening Day bullpen. Probably won’t actually work out that way, but based on the guys in place, that’s at least a reasonable prediction. If nothing else, Rogers is another bit of pitching depth to compete for a job this spring.

Associated Press photo

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Report: Yankees avoid arbitration with Esmil Rogers12.02.14

RogersRather than non-tender Esmil Rogers, the Yankees have reportedly agreed to a new deal for next season.

According to Ben Nicholson-Smith, the Yankees and Rogers avoided arbitration just before the non-tender deadline. The timing certainly suggests the Yankees might have threatened a non-tender if Rogers didn’t meet their asking price — that’s just an assumption, nothing I’ve heard as of yet — and the new contract certainly suggests Rogers will have a strong chance to win a bullpen job in spring training.

Contracts for arbitration-eligible players are typically not guaranteed, so the Yankees should be able to pay a fraction of the total if they decide to cut Rogers in spring training.

The real curiosity is what this means for the rest of the 40-man roster. Ultimately, a roster spot for Rogers is a roster spot that can’t go to someone else.

UPDATE, 8:22 p.m.: Jon Heyman was the first with the contract information, and as expected, it’s far less than the projection. Rogers gets $750,000 guaranteed, and the total can reach as high as $1.48 million. That’s a pretty significant pay cut in exchange for something guaranteed. Makes the move much, much easier to understand. At that price, Rogers is making barely more than the minimum heading into spring training, and presumably makes more only if he truly earns it.

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Yankees face non-tender decisions with Huff, Rogers12.02.14

Esmil Rodgers

Today is the non-tender deadline, when teams have to decide which of their arbitration-eligible players are worth an upcoming pay raise. The Yankees have six arb-eligible guys, and four seem like no-brainers to bring back next season. Ivan Nova’s probably going to make basically the same thing he made last year, Michael Pineda and David Phelps will still be awfully cheap, and Shawn Kelley’s proven enough these past two seasons to be worth the roughly $2.5 million he’s likely to receive. But the Yankees do have two players who stand out as non-tender candidates. Not non-tender locks, but non-tender possibilities.

RogersEsmil Rogers
This one is strictly a money issue.

The Yankees clearly like Rogers’ arm, otherwise they wouldn’t have acquired him at the trade deadline and immediately put him in the big league bullpen. And they’ve seen him have some success, including a good spot start in just his third appearance with the team. Sure, his numbers ballooned late in the year, but two especially bad outings had a lot to do with that. Ultimately, Rogers isn’t a bad guy to bring into camp to compete for a job. He throws hard, he has some experience, and he could play a few different roles on the pitching staff. He’s not a bad guy to have on the roster; not a bad guy to have in spring training.

Problem is, Rogers made $1.85 million this year and he’s expected to make very slightly more than that next year. Contracts for guys like this aren’t guaranteed, but paying basically $2 million for a guy with control issues and an uninspiring track record? It’s not a given that he should be non-tendered, but it’s also not a given that the Yankees have a spot for him. The 40-man’s going to be tight as it is, and this is a way to clear a spot and perhaps save a little money.

HuffDavid Huff
This one is strictly a roster issue.

Huff made slightly more than the minimum this season, and his estimated raise puts him around $700,000 for next season. That’s not much, especially on a non-guaranteed contract. And it’s especially not much when you consider Huff had a surprisingly good season. During his 30 appearances with the Yankees, he had a 1.85 ERA, 4.00 FIP and 1.31 WHIP. Not great, but not bad for a bullpen lefty capable of pitching multiple innings at a time. The Yankees have acquired him each of the past two years, so they clearly like him.

Problem is, the Yankees have plenty of Huff types already on the roster and in the system. They traded for Justin Wilson last month, which added a true bullpen lefty to the mix. They signed minor league veteran Jose De Paula to a major league deal, giving them a left-handed reliever/starter option. They also have Manny Banuelos and a bunch of upper-level prospects who pitch left-handed, and they have David Phelps, Bryan Mitchell and Chase Whitley available as potential long men. It’s not that Huff’s a bad pitcher at that salary, it’s just that he’s a bit redundant on the Yankees roster. Like Rogers, it’s not a given he should be non-tendered, but it’s also not a given the Yankees have a spot for him.

Associated Press photo

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Sorting through Yankees arbitration and non-tender candidates10.21.14

Michael Pineda

Yesterday, MLB Trade Rumors announced it’s typically reliable salary predictions for the seven Yankees who are arbitration eligible this winter. The MLBTR predictions aren’t fool-proof, and they aren’t necessarily exact, but over time we’ve learned that they tend to provide a pretty solid expectation for what an individual player stands to earn through offseason negotiations.

So with these figures in mind, which arbitration-eligible Yankees are most likely to be non-tendered this winter?

This year: $3.3 million
Next year prediction: $3.3 million

No logical chance of a non-tender. Last year’s elbow injury cost the Yankees a full season from one of their top young starting pitchers, but it also made him significantly less expensive in his second year of arbitration. Despite the injury, the Yankees will gladly sign up for $3.3 million on a pitcher who could be at least a strong No. 3-4 starter with the potential to go on a run of near-ace-like production for several weeks at a time. The injury might keep them from considering a multi-year deal at this point, but one year at this price is surely a no-brainer.

This year: $1.765 million
Next year prediction: $2.5 million

A $3.5-million commitment was enough for the Yankees to cut ties with Matt Thornton back in August, so the possibility of a $2.5-million deal with Kelley shouldn’t be completely dismissed. It’s not pocket change. That said, Kelley’s been a nice find for the Yankees bullpen. A back injury slowed him down for a while this year, but his key numbers — strikeout rate, walk rate, WHIP, etc. — were actually better in 2014 than in 2013. He’s a pretty reliable strikeout pitcher, and a one-year commitment to a reliever like this seems just about perfect at this point. The Yankees have some solid arms on the way, and one more year of Kelley might perfectly bridge the gap. No compelling reason to non-tender him.

This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $2.1 million

Pretty big salary jump for a guy who’s made 13 big league starts since 2011. But that’s the nature of the business with a player who’s coming back from a long-term injury and a bunch of time on the 60-day disabled list. Ultimately, a little more than $2 million should be a bargain as long as Pineda stays healthy. And if he doesn’t, it probably means another chance for a similar low-risk, one-year contract next winter. Again, this one is a no-brainer. Pineda will certainly be back, and even with the injury concern and time missed, there’s no reason to balk at $2.1 million for a pitcher with Pineda’s proven talent.

This year: $1.85 million
Next year prediction: $1.9 million

Probably the strongest non-tender candidate of the bunch. Obviously the Yankees like Rogers’ arm — and at times they got terrific production out of him during his brief Yankees tenure last season — but he’s ultimately a 29-year-old with a 1.56 career WHIP, 5.54 career ERA, and a large enough sample size to suggest those numbers are a reasonable expectation for next year. Even if $1.9 million isn’t a ton of money, a one-year deal with Rogers probably isn’t the best way to spend it. Not with better options — or at least similar options — already in the system. The 40-man is going to be tight, money could be tight, and it’s probably not be worth using either a roster spot or a couple million bucks to retain Rogers. If the Yankees had less pitching depth, the situation might be different.

This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $1.3 million

It seems Phelps just made it past the cutoff for early arbitration eligibility. I’m sure the Yankees would like one more year at the minimum, but I’m sure they also realize that Phelps is a really nice fit for them in the immediate future. He’s proven capable of filling any role, and this Yankees pitching staff should have a need for a long man who can either slide into the rotation or move into a late-inning role if necessary. That’s Phelps. As he more thoroughly defines himself one way or the other — and as his arbitration price goes up with each passing offseason — the Yankees will have a choice to make about how much he’s worth, but at slightly more than a million dollars, Phelps is still a good fit at a cheap price.

This year: $700,000
Next year prediction: $1.1 million

You know, Cervelli has really developed into a nice catcher. He’s played like a high-end backup or a low-end (with upside) starter. And $1.1 million isn’t too much to pay for a guy like that. Even as the Yankees surely need to make a decision behind the plate — makes sense to make a move with either Cervelli, John Ryan Murphy or Austin Romine — it would be a waste to simply non-tender Cervelli. Surely there’s trade value there, and even if the Yankees decide to cut him in spring training, arbitration-eligible players are never given guaranteed contracts, so the Yankees could move on a fraction of the price. Certainly worth signing a new contract, even if it’s also worth immediately trying to trade him.

This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $700,000

Could be a non-tender candidate despite having a pretty nice year. Huff walks quite a few batters, and he doesn’t strike out a ton of guys, but he had a 1.31 WHIP and a 1.85 ERA during his stint with the Yankees (granted, with a much higher FIP and xFIP). Ultimately, he was fine. Nothing about his season suggests he’s not worth a modest raise to $700,000. That said, the Yankees always treated him like a last-man in the bullpen, and his career splits don’t suggest a reliable lefty specialist. Solid year, fairly cheap price, but could be non-tendered just to open a roster spot for someone else.

Associated Press photo

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Salary predictions for arbitration-eligible Yankees10.20.14

Ivan Nova, Joe Girardi

These numbers are far from official, but the crew at MLB Trade Rumors — Matt Swartz in particular — has a strong record when it comes to predicting salaries for arbitration eligible players. Here’s what they’re predicting for this year’s arb-eligible Yankees:

This year: $3.3 million
Next year prediction: $3.3 million

This year: $1.765 million
Next year prediction: $2.5 million

This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $2.1 million

This year: $1.85 million
Next year prediction: $1.9 million

This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $1.3 million

This year: $700,000
Next year prediction: $1.1 million

This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $700,000

Associated Press photo

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Postgame notes: “We felt that they could help us”08.09.14

Indians Yankees Baseball

Since getting home from Boston, the Yankees have won four of five at Yankee Stadium, and each of those wins was started by a pitcher who wasn’t on the roster at the beginning of July. First it was Brandon McCarthy, then Chris Capuano, then Shane Greene, and now Esmil Rogers — a mix of youth and experience, familiar names and off-the-radar acquisitions.

This is not remotely the rotation the Yankees planned, but it’s working.

“It was the reason we went and got these guys because we felt that they could help us,” Joe Girardi said. “They’ve pitched extremely well. I’m not sure any of us knew exactly what to expect, but if you look at since the All-Star break, we’ve had a chance to win every game and that’s because of them.”

Rogers is arguably the least likely of the bunch. Cast out of the Blue Jays bullpen early this season, he’d been toiling in Triple-A for months when the Yankees grabbed him off waivers at the trade deadline. He was supposed to be a long man, but when David Phelps became the fifth Yankees starter to land on the disabled list — they have yet to get one back — Rogers was asked to make his first big league start since September of 2013.

He went five innings with one run, and even that was nearly avoided before a two-out single in the first inning.

“I didn’t have all my confidence (in Toronto) like I have it right now in all my pitches,” Rogers said. “My slider and my curveball, changeup and splitter too, and the sinker is unbelievable right now. So i think the key is pounding the zone right now.”

With Michael Pineda making a minor league rehab start tonight in Triple-A, and seeming available to come off the disabled list in five days if necessary, the Yankees now face a decision of whether to have Rogers start again or activate Pineda next turn through the rotation.

At the very least Rogers must have given the Yankees some confidence if they would rather stick with the original plan and let Pineda make one more minor league start.

“I think there’s a lot of things that are tied together here that we’re going to have to try to unwrap to see what we do next,” Girardi said.

Indians Yankees Baseball• Brian McCann left tonight’s game with a mild concussion, but Girardi said he’s still not sure whether McCann will land on the seven-day disabled list. It will depend on tests tomorrow morning. “I think they evaluate him the next day to see what the doctors determine,” Girardi said.

• For whatever it’s worth, McCann didn’t want to leave tonight’s game. He stayed in after taking a foul tip in the third inning — “He (initially) felt like his jaw got jammed,” Girardi said — but after the top of the sixth, McCann told Girardi that he didn’t feel quite right. “I asked him, ‘Are you dizzy?’” Girardi said. “He said, no. I said, ‘Are you sick to your stomach?’ He said, no. He said, ‘I just don’t feel quite right.’ I said, ‘Do you feel a little foggy?’ (He said), yes. … He didn’t want to come out, but I said, you’re out.”

• Pineda’s final line in tonight’s Triple-A rehab start: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K. He threw 72 pitches. He told Donnie Collins that he feels ready to return to the big leagues.

More from Donnie Collins: “Pineda really only gave up two hard-hit balls. (Double) by Walters in the first, and (single) by Aguilar in third. Change, fastball up, respectively.” Donnie says that Pineda’s fastball was 92-94 mph.

• Rogers has pitched for the Yankees three times and he has two wins. He threw 88 pitches tonight, and Girardi said he might have gone longer had he not pitched in Tuesday’s game. Certainly suggests he would be at least cleared for 100 pitches if the Yankees choose to send him out in five days. “I just wasn’t sure how much he would be able to give us, and I think we were pretty conscious of watching his stuff continue to be sharp as his pitch count mounted,” Girardi said. “He did a great job.”

Indians Yankees Baseball• Carlos Beltran hit the 11th grand slam of his career in the sixth inning. It was his first grand slam since 2012. “You want to at least get the job done and get one in,” Beltran said. “I faced John Axford many times in the National League so I guess I have maybe like one hit against him. He felt that it was the right matchup for me. I was able to put a good at-bat and come through for the team.”

• This was the Yankees second grand slam of the year. Brett Gardner also hit one. Beltran had two hits and has been excellent since the All-Star break.

• Another milestone for Derek Jeter. Tonight’s first-inning single was the 3,430th of his career, tying Honus Wagner for sixth place on baseball’s all-time hits list. Honus Wagner! That’s insane. “Big names,” Girardi said. “I mean really big names, and it’s been fun to watch him go through it this season.”

• Ichiro Suzuki collected his 2,810th big league hit, tying George Sisler for 48th on baseball’s all-time hits list. Ichiro also had his first multi-steal game since June 15 of last year.

• This was the fourth time the Yankees scored at least 10 runs this season. This was the first time since 2012 that they scored five runs in more than one inning.

• In those two five-run innings, the Yankees had a total of just six hits. Took advantage of a bunch of walks tonight.

• The Yankees had a losing home record in the first half of the season, but they’ve won 11 of 15 at home since the All-Star break. “I did expect it to even out because we feel our lineup is built for this field, our ballpark,” Girardi said. “So you did expect it to even out. When I talked about coming into the second half (I said) we need to play better at home, and we have.”

• Final word to Beltran: “I think the team has been doing the job, trying to add players that can make the ballclub better offensively and defensively. We had a lot of downs with our starting rotation and things like that, but at the end of the day we need to find a way to do it with what we’ve got.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

Game 115: Yankees vs. Indians08.08.14

Ichiro SuzukiYANKEES (60-54)
Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Carlos Beltran DH
Brian McCann C
Chase Headley 1B
Stephen Drew 2B
Martin Prado 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF

RHP Esmil Rogers (1-0, 5.84)
Rogers vs. Indians

INDIANS (57-58)
Jason Kipnis 2B
Mike Aviles 3B
Michael Brantley DH
Carlos Santana 1B
David Murphy LF
Nick Swisher RF
Chris Dickerson CF
Jose Ramirez SS
Roberto Perez C

RHP Trevor Bauer (4-6, 4.20)
Bauer vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 7:05 p.m., YES Network

WEATHER: Temperatures in the low 80s and high 70s with no real chance of rain. Very slight breeze right now. Pretty still, comfortable night.

UMPIRES: HP Dan Bellino, 1B Jeff Kellogg, 2B Brian O’Nora, 3B D.J. Reyburn

ONE AWAY: Derek Jeter has 3,429 career hits and needs just one to tie Hall of Famer Honus Wagner for sixth place on MLB’s all-time list.

ONE AWAY (TAKE TWO): Ichiro Suzuki has 2,809 career hits and needs just one to tie George Sisler for 48th on baseball’s all-time list. Ichiro has 262 hit in 2004 with Seattle, surpassing Sisler’s longstanding single-season mark of 257 hits in 1920 with the Browns.

ONE AWAY (TAKE THREE): Dave Robertson has 499 career strikeouts in 373.2 innings pitched. With his next strikeout, Robertson will surpass David Cone — who had 500 strikeouts in his first 486.1 innings as a Yankee — as the fastest pitcher to reach 500 K with the Yankees, according to Elias.

UPDATE, 7:10 p.m.: Leadoff double for Kipnis, and we’re under way here at the Stadium.

UPDATE, 7:19 p.m.: Rogers was almost out of the inning, but a two-out single by Santana has pushed across a run for a 1-0 Indians lead in the first.

UPDATE, 7:24 p.m.: Jeter just tied Wagner with an infield single (which maybe could have been ruled an E-3).

UPDATE, 7:30 p.m.: There’s an RBI single by Beltran. Game tied, still two on with one out for McCann. Three straight Yankees have reached base.

UPDATE, 7:46 p.m.: Well this has been a fiasco of a first inning for the Indians. The Yankees have already batted around. Bauer already has three walks. The Yankees already have four hits. It’s a 5-1 game and Bauer’s pitch count is sky high.

UPDATE, 8:19 p.m.: Rogers put a couple of guys on in the third, but he hasn’t allowed a run since that two-out single in the first. Yankees up 5-1 heading into the bottom of the third.

UPDATE, 8:01 p.m.: Scoreless second inning for each team. Still 5-1.

UPDATE, 8:29 p.m.: Pineda is finished after 72 pitches with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. His line: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K

UPDATE, 8:42 p.m.: Double and a walk here in the fourth inning. Heart of the Yankees order coming up as the Indians go to their bullpen. Rough night for Bauer.

UPDATE, 9:37 p.m.: Huff had some trouble in the top of the sixth — Rogers went five pretty good innings — and that led to another Indians run, but the Yankees have a chance to do something here in the sixth with runners at second and third with one out for Ellsbury. Jeter bunted the runners over rather than try to drive in a run himself. I don’t like the bunt there, but what do I know?

UPDATE, 9:42 p.m.: As the Indians were intentionally walking Ellsbury, I turned to Roger Rubin sitting next to me and said, “Beltran’s going to hit a grand slam here.” Which obviously he did. That’s the 11th grand slam of Beltran’s career, and his first since 2012.

UPDATE, 10:08 p.m.: It was a 10-2 lead in the seventh, but Kelley just walked in a run. Yuck. Here comes Warren to try to keep this inning from getting ugly. Bases still loaded with no outs and Santana at the plate. Feels a little like that Texas game.

UPDATE, 10;14 p.m.: Brian McCann was removed with a slight concussion.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

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