Monday, June 29, 2015

Yankees weekend news wrap: Series split, Gardner, Ellsbury and Miller

The New York Yankees were probably happy to leave Houston with a split of their four-game series with the first-place Astros, but the feeling that they could have gained a series victory might sit in their minds as well.

In reality, the Astros could be the ones kicking themselves. They actually had the second game of the series in hand as well, leading 2-0 after six innings. If it wasn’t for Chris Young’s three-run homer in the seventh inning the Yanks might have dropped the series.

In Sunday’s finale, Michael Pineda was locked into a duel with Collin McHugh. The Yankees had a slight 1-0 lead and then their defense let them down again as Brett Gardner and Garrett Jones allowed an easy fly ball to drop in front of them. The ball was then kicked by Gardner, rolled to the wall and allowed Carlos Correa to round the bases and tie the score. This fed McHugh, who became virtually untouchable from that point on.

Now the whole game cannot be blamed on the one play as Pineda was hit hard in the seventh and eighth in which he allowed a run in each frame. The offense was the culprit here and besides the Young homer Friday and the nine runs scored in the third game of the series, the bats were relatively quiet.

It's not Gardner’s fault


The sleeping offense was not due to Brett Gardner’s play. He has been absolutely on fire over his last 10 games (22-for-45 with 15 runs, five doubles, four homers and 11 RBI) and went 6-for-13 with three doubles and three runs scored in the series. Gardner has a 1.026 OPS for the month of June. Hopefully, he can continue to produce close to these results when Jacoby Ellsbury returns.

Speaking of Ellsbury…


The Yankees’ center fielder passed his tests while with the team this past weekend and was headed for Tampa to begin a rehab assignment. The club hopes he can be ready for the Yankees’ homestand which begins Friday.

Ellsbury, who has been on the disabled list since May 19, was firing on all cylinders before injuring his knee. He was hitting .324 with 29 runs scored and 14 stolen bases.

While Gardner has proven (yet again) that he can handle the role of leadoff hitter, the pair was performing wonderfully at the top of the Yankees’ order. It seemed at least one of the two of them was getting on base or even both of them were doing so on a regular basis providing the Yankees with plenty of run-scoring opportunities.

Getting Ellsbury back should also solidify the outfield defense.

Another player on the mend


Finally, the Yankees are hoping to get closer Andrew Miller back into the bullpen soon. Wednesday, Miller threw for the first time since hitting the DL. The next step would be getting onto the mound before starting a rehab assignment of his own.

Losing Miller has left the Yankees bullpen feeling short in tight games. It might have played a role in Sunday’s game as Chasen Shreve, Justin Wilson and Dellin Betances were all unavailable because they pitched in back-to-back games Friday and Saturday.

Once Miller comes back the four pitchers form a top-flight back-end of the bullpen and gives Yankees manager Joe Girardi an easier time of mixing up their workload.

What’s next?


The Yankees (41-35) head to Anaheim to face the Los Angeles Angels (39-37) for a three-game set.

The pitching matchups:

Monday – CC Sabathia (3-7, 5.65 ERA) versus C.J. Wilson (5-6, 3.92 ERA)
Tuesday – Ivan Nova (1-0, 0.00 ERA) versus Andrew Heaney (0-0, 1.50 ERA)
Wednesday – Adam Warren (5-5, 3.59 ERA) versus Matt Shoemaker (4-6, 5.06 ERA)

The Yankees swept the Angels earlier this month (Sabathia and Warren earned wins), but they have had a rough time at Angel Stadium in seasons’ past. The Yankees will look to pick up at least a couple of wins to stay close in the American League East standings. They begin play Monday in third place, but just one-half game back of the first-place Baltimore Orioles.

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



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Expecting Ivan Nova to boost Yankees’ rotation begs disappointment

Note: This post has been updated at the end to account for Nova's start Wednesday.

What New York Yankees’ right-hander Ivan Nova has accomplished – returning from Tommy John surgery after 14 months away from the game – is undeniably commendable. It takes hard work and determination to rehab from this surgery despite its commonplace. But, it is not fair and completely disillusioned to expect Nova to be anything more than a back-of-the-rotation starter. He’s not saving this team’s suddenly shaky pitching staff.

Ivan Nova
Photo Credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
Forget the fact that Nova has not been on a Major League mound since April 2014; he was never more than an inconsistent middle-of-the-rotation starter to begin with. And that’s being kind.

Nova apologists can point to his rookie campaign in 2011 when he went 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA (4.00 FIP), and I’ll note the inconsistencies within the season (he allowed four or more earned runs in eight of his 27 starts) and he received enormous run support (5.95 runs per game).

Next I’ll remind Nova supporters of his sophomore season where his ERA (5.02) and FIP (4.60) skyrocketed. They’ll counter with 2013. Once again, that season was constructed by very uneven phases. At one point in 2013, Nova was so bad, the club demoted him. Finally, 2014 was awful, though I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that the elbow was the factor there.

Nova has been a characteristically average pitcher where it concerned walk rate (3.0 BB/9) and strikeout rate (6.8 K/9) through his career. When he is going well, he generates ground balls, and when he is not he has a tendency to allow balls to leave the yard (1.0 HR/9 for career).

Nova has not been especially sharp in his rehab appearances. He compiled a 4.02 ERA in 15.2 combined innings at High-A and Triple-A, but the Yankees want to run with a six-man rotation for a little bit and need Nova in order to do so.

In the short term, the Yankees hope Nova can give them some length and ease the burden recently placed on the bullpen. Over the long haul, the club hopes he finds some consistency and that he can channel the strong stretches from his past more often than not. I’m here to warn you not to get your hopes up.

Updated 6/27/15: Nova tossed 6.2 innings of scoreless ball in his return Wednesday. A great start indeed. I'm still not going to buy into Nova's long-term prospects here, simply because its almost par for the course where it concerns him. It would not shock me if Nova has a bad outing in his next turn, or throws a few good games before reverting backwards for a few. That's his modus operandi. I've become skeptical of Nova's performances because of his inconsistencies described above and one good performance is not going to change my perception.

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



Sunday, June 21, 2015

Another great Yankees' Old-Timers' Day

The New York Yankees are great at celebrating their former stars and coaches. Despite whether you believe they do it too often or not, or disagree with the method by which they select who gets what, they put on a fantastic show.

It was great to see Willie Randolph be honored Saturday at the Yankees' 69th annual Old-Timers’ Day. I remember watching Randolph as a child and into my teens. He was such a solid player, the model of consistency and poise.

The Yankees presenting Mel Stottlemyre with a plaque yesterday was another great moment in club history. His off-the-cuff speech was heart-felt and emotional.

Of course seeing the rest of the players from yesteryear is always fun and the game itself is enjoyable. It’s nice to watch these guys joke around with each other. It reminds you that during the time they play with each other as teammates, some of them grow tight bonds as friends. Yet another reason why I love baseball.

Logo courtesy of SportsLogos.net.

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



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Yankees ramblings: Pineda, Drew, bullpen, Teixeira & Rodriguez

I had some observations throughout the New York Yankees’ 2-1 win over the Miami Marlins Wednesday night. Forgive me for rambling...

Rambling #1


Michael Pineda did exactly what was needed of him. The Yankees’ offense remained stagnant and he put up six straight zeroes. Hey, he held the Marlins hitless through the first six innings as well. Can the Yankees ask anything more? It is imperative that Pineda turn in efforts like Wednesday’s when the Yankees are coming off consecutive losses. There cannot be any long losing streaks for the Yankees to stay in the playoff race and between Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka, the club should be fine in that regard going forward.

Rambling #1A


Concerning Pineda’s attempt at the no-hitter; there was no chance he was going to be given more than 110 pitches last night. He was at 94 through six innings which projected to 141 at the pace he had set. The home run he allowed to Christian Yelich removed manager Joe Girardi from the responsibility of  making the decision about the no-no, and allowed The Binder to focus on getting the win.

Rambling #2


Stephen Drew is a great fielder. He’s a terrible hitter. Yes, he has power, but he’s virtually an automatic out except for every fifth or sixth start. I tweeted this earlier this morning.

Drew is a .252 hitter for his career, and has languished below The Mendoza Line since last season, so hitting .260 for a stretch of 100 at-bats seems outlandish. I'll continue to bang the drum for Rob Refsnyder and hope he can figure out how to make the pivot at second base before the trade deadline or else, we might see someone else (Ben Zobrist?) at the keystone, thus costing the club players from the system.

Rambling #3


The trio of Chasen Shreve, Justin Wilson and Dellin Betances did a great job after Pineda left. If Adam Warren is indeed moved to the bullpen and Andrew Miller comes back the same as he was before the injury, this is shaping up to be the strong bullpen everyone expected; albeit with a different cast of characters.

Rambling #4


The Mark Teixeira injury watch has begun. After playing in 61-of-65 games this season, the Yankees’ first baseman sat out Wednesday with a stiff neck. Apparently he has been dealing with it since the Baltimore series. They hate him there. It makes me wonder if the hotel the club stayed in supplied Teixeira with crappy pillows? In all seriousness, the Yankees' offense is listless without Teixeira’s power and run-producing ability. Ask yourself this; entering the season, was there a better chance of Teixeira playing in 150+ games or reaching 30 home runs and 100 RBI? He’s on his way to passing all three measures (pace = 152 G, 45 HR & 120 RBI).

Rambling #5


Finally, did you catch the fancy graphics the YES Network is using for each of Alex Rodriguez’s hits toward 3,000? How about this tweet?

Apparently, now that there is no money attached to this milestone, the team has no problem using A-Rod's statistics to their advantage. The Yankees suggested they couldn’t market A-Rod’s pursuit of Willie Mays or now Babe Ruth in the home run chase, but it seems more like they chose to save a few bucks as they willfully display Rodriguez's hit count on the broadcast and in social media. At least the club has been reported to have offered to donate a smaller portion of the contracted $6 million to a charity of A-Rod’s choice. The resolution deadline, which recently passed, was put on hold so the sides could work out a deal.

If you have any thoughts on today’s ramblings feel free to comment below.

Yankees logo courtesy of SportsLogos.net.

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



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What should Yankees do with Nathan Eovaldi?

When a pitcher gives up eight runs in less than an inning of work like New York Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi did Tuesday night, it invokes some knee-jerk questions about his place in the rotation when the previous results were not exactly spectacular. The questions seem justified when there is speculation that another member of the rotation – one who has been better all season – is going to be leaving for the bullpen. What are the Yankees going to do with Eovaldi?

Nathan Eovaldi
Photo Credit: Arturo Pardavilla III via Flickr
My hunch is that they’ll stick with him in the rotation because it’s the easy thing to do and the Yankees might believe Tuesday’s implosion was a simple outlier. I was among those who jumped to suggest shipping him to the bullpen mostly because in my mind Adam Warren deserves better. Others stated that Eovaldi’s “stuff” fits the bullpen, which may be true on paper.

The problem is the Yankees know Warren can pitch in the bullpen (and effectively so) while all they can discern about Eovaldi is that he has a tough time putting away batters with a 99-mph fastball. It’s baffling, but if Eovaldi can’t shutdown hitters as a starter in his first inning of work – he has allowed at least one run in the first inning in six of this 13 starts – he’s likely not going to do it as a reliever.

Basically, the Yankees are forced to work through Eovaldi’s issues and hope that sometime, and soon, everything clicks. His slider has been more effective of late, but last night he left it up and it was hit often. Eovaldi is coming off a season in which he allowed more hits than any other Major League pitcher and he’s near the top of that list yet again (he stands fifth, just five hits shy of former Yankee Phil Hughes). Eovaldi has a lot of work to do and ironing his issues out in the bullpen might not be the best option.

Speaking of options, Eovaldi has all of his as far as I can tell (per RosterResource). Maybe the Yankees send him down to the minors if this last start turns out to be the beginning of a bad trend? It couldn’t hurt and would give Warren the time he deserves as a starter, or provide Bryan Mitchell another crack at the big leagues to see if his success this season will translate at the next level.

Now, if the Yankees are making deals and Eovaldi is someone the other team wants tossed in, I cannot see the Yankees holding back. They have some talent in the system (Mitchell, Luis Severino, Jose De Paula and Jaron Long are all in Triple-A) to withstand losing Eovaldi as far as future depth is concerned. It would be a tough call since they just traded for him, but it wouldn’t be shocking if the Yankees' brain-trust collectively felt Eovaldi is now what he’ll always be.

For now, expect the Yankees to allow Eovaldi to prove Tuesday night was an aberration. However, if it marked the first wake-up call for the club, Eovaldi could be in for a change of scenery in the not-so-distant future.

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



Monday, June 15, 2015

Yankees can maintain first-place without drastic measures

The New York Yankees lost two of three games to the Baltimore Orioles in Camden Yards this weekend and looked terrible in the losses. They fought their way through the finale, escaping with a victory to maintain a lone percentage point lead in the American League East standings.

The Tampa Bay Rays won’t go away, the Orioles are playing better (winners of six straight before Sunday’s loss) and the Toronto Blue Jays are destroying everyone in their path having won 11 straight games. The AL East might not be the best division in the game, but each club outside of the Boston Red Sox, seems to be in a position grab the crown.

What do the Yankees have to do to stay atop the division?

Improve the defense


The Yankees have had a rough time playing crisp baseball for extended periods. They’ve won more games because one or two facets are superior, rather than games in which they were solid all over the field.

Their defense has been the biggest disappointment in my view. The fielding, especially in the infield, was supposed to be a huge advantage this season. Chase Headley has the yips and Didi Gregorius, who can be flashy, isn't nearly as steady as he was advertised. The right side of the infield, with Stephen Drew and Mark Teixeira has been very good defensively.

In the outfield, Carlos Beltran is a detriment. He’s been subject to defensive replacements all season and might be replaced by Garrett Jones for the next two days because of Miami’s expansive ballpark. Beltran cannot cover any ground and has seemingly forgotten how to play the field when he actually gets to a ball.

Trust the young guns


This nonsense of locating and inserting scrap-heap pitchers who couldn’t survive elsewhere needs to stop. The likes of Esmil Rogers, Chris Martin and now Sergio Santos filling roster spots is not how the club should handle the bullpen going forward.

Once Adam Warren moves to the bullpen, assuming no one is hurt before Ivan Nova returns to the rotation, Martin and Santos should be on an incredibly short leash. Hopefully Rogers denies his assignment and leaves New York.

With pitchers like Jacob Lindgren, Danny Burawa, Branden Pinder, Nick Rumbelow all ready to contribute, the Yankees should fill those last couple of spots in the bullpen with whatever combination of them works best. Rotate the action among them until they find the player ready to take control. Maybe they even look to Luis Severino as a bullpen option as I mentioned here last week.

By the time Andrew Miller returns, the bullpen should be a strength once again.

Be wary of trade rentals


Trade season is arriving and the Yankees are reportedly scouting players like Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, each of whom is a free agent after this season. Cueto would certainly cost serious prospects and Leake might require a decent haul himself.

The Yankees should step gingerly in these types of trades. They have done a respectable job in recent years shoring up parts of their farm system. Trading away pieces – potential big league building blocks for that matter – for a half-season rental might not be the wisest decision.

The Yankees might be best served to stay within the system to fill perceived voids. The Yankees’ main personnel weaknesses (CC Sabathia and Beltran come to mind), are unmovable without a huge financial loss because of their contracts. The Yanks are stuck with these guys.

Would the Yankees be willing to ship Nathan Eovaldi back to the National League? Maybe. But that would indicate they felt they made a mistake, and honestly I feel he needs more time to hone his game. I bet they do too.

Provided there is not a substantial player lost for the remainder of the season, the Yankees should avoid trade rentals where losing top prospects is required.

Time to trust youth with at-bats


Finally, and we’ve seen some of this already with Jacoby Ellsbury out, the Yankees need to move past retreads for bench roles. Brendan Ryan and Chris Young are roster spots being wasted. Ship them both if possible and whatever they bring back is gravy. The Yankees should consider keeping a young outfielder on the bench when Jacoby Ellsbury returns.

Moving Young is a little harder as the Yankees only have Tyler Austin on the 40-man roster in the outfield hitting from the right side. Garrett Jones, a lefty hitter, seems to be a necessity from the perspective of his ability to play first base as insurance for any injury to Teixeira. Right-handed hitting Jose Pirela could handle a corner spot and might be a better pinch-hitting option than Young going forward as well.

Aaron Judge is in Double-A and performing well, but it’s a long shot that the Yankees would call him up this soon. The rest of the Double-A outfielders all hit left-handed.

Maybe the Yankees bring up Rob Refsnyder to play second and Drew can be used as a defensive replacement in tight games and a sound bench player. Drew is every bit of the glove that Ryan is and at least he has some pop in his bat to go with the sub .200 average the club will get either way.

Even if the Yanks platoon Drew and Refsnyder there is a chance for better overall production from second base. If Refsnyder only played against lefty pitching, it might ease his presumed defensive issues.

The point here is to get some of the young position players some meaningful at-bats, especially those who have seemingly reached their peaks at Triple-A.

Wrapping up


The Yankees have played extremely streaky baseball all season. That’s going to need to end. Winning six out of every 10 games going forward should be enough to win this division, but the club cannot afford lengthy losing streaks. The Yanks do not need to become overly aggressive in the trade market to do so. The club simply has to tighten up on defense, remain healthy once Nova, Miller and Ellsbury return, and then have faith in their current minor league players on both sides of the ball over veterans who provide little upside.

Yankees' logo courtesy of SportsLogos.net.

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



Thursday, June 11, 2015

Yankees’ bullpen might look completely different when Andrew Miller returns

When the New York Yankees announced that closer Andrew Miller was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a forearm strain it might have begun a chain reaction of events which could completely change the complexion of the bullpen upon his return.

Andrew Miller
Photo Credit: Arturo Pardavilla III via Flickr
Miller’s injury is about as good as it could be where it concerns the elbow, as his MRI showed no structural damage to his ulnar collateral ligament, thus no Tommy John talk for now. Miller is not expected to pick up a ball for about two weeks, putting the earliest guess on a return at about one month.

For the sake of the following exercise, assume that there are no further injuries to the members of the entire pitching staff. Yes, there is a good chance someone else goes down, but this speculative piece is being written in a vacuum. Let’s take a look at the potential chain reaction of Miller’s injury.


Will Miller come back as the closer?


I’m actually going to say no. If there was a question about Miller in the closer’s role, it was whether he would be able to handle the number of innings required combined with the added stress of nailing down games. Remember, before this season, Miller was used predominantly in high-leverage lefty versus lefty situations.

Dellin Betances
Photo Credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
Yes, he began to be used more and more against right-handed batters, but the number of innings required of him had not approached that of a pitcher in the closer role. His season-high since being converted to a full-time reliever is 62 innings which he reached last season. Miller is already at 26.2 innings this season.

I’m not necessarily saying Miller cannot compile the number of innings needed; rather I believe Dellin Betances is better suited to take on the wear and tear of the job and to perform to the level required at the same time. Betances tossed 90 innings in 2014.

Of course, if Betances is a total bust while Miller is gone, this would change. But, there is absolutely nothing that suggests Betances will not thrive in the role.

Shifts in middle relief crew


The Yankees had been working with five lefties and two righties since they designated David Carpenter for assignment last week. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman suggested the day after Carpenter was removed from the roster that he would be looking for right-handed relief help.

I claimed that there was (and still is) plenty of depth in the system for the Yankees to make any changes they deem necessary to balance the handedness of the relievers manning the bullpen. Since there will not be much trade action this early on, I will not interject players from outside the organization into this account.

Right-hander Chris Martin is returning Friday when the Yankees visit Baltimore. That gives the Yanks three righties (Betances, Martin and Esmil Rogers) and four lefties (Justin Wilson, Chasen Shreve, Jacob Lindgren and Chris Capuano).

Ivan Nova might be back after his next rehab start, which will likely (and maybe unjustly) send Adam Warren to the bullpen. Warren has been fantastic of late, but his move to the bullpen could be a blessing in disguise.

The club has had a rough time carrying leads from the sixth and seventh innings to the eighth and Warren will be able help Wilson with the bridge to Betances in the ninth. Warren will be able to take on more than three outs at a time in crucial moments and because he has four pitches he’ll be difficult to hit. He’d generate a boost in velocity to his fastball as we have seen in the last two seasons when he worked exclusively out of the bullpen.

Warren’s move to the bullpen would force the Yankees to designate either Rogers or Capuano for assignment. Rogers would be my call (I’ve been clamoring for it since he was signed). Having Capuano as the long man and a potential fill-in starter makes the most sense at this time.

Upon Miller’s return another roster move would be in order and whoever between Martin, Shreve or Lindgren is performing the worst would likely take the heat.

Remain southpaw heavy?


Miller’s return would still leave a lefty heavy bullpen (four/three if Martin and either Shreve or Lindgren is kept) and the Yankees could address the balance at the same time Miller comes back.

They could demote both Shreve and Lindgren and bring up any of a handful of righty relievers – Danny Burawa, Branden Pinder and Jose Ramirez are on the 40-man roster; or the Yanks could add Nick Rumbelow, Diego Moreno or the newly acquired Sergio Santos to the roster. Such a move would shift the balance to four right-handers and three southpaws.

Luis Severino
Photo Credit: "slgckgc" via Flickr
There is one intriguing option the Yankees could move on if Capuano is faltering. That is promoting their number one prospect according to MLB.com, Luis Severino.

Severino has made three starts at Triple-A and has fared well – 16.2 IP, 2.70 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. He owns a combined line between Double-A and Triple-A this season of 54.2 IP, 3.13 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 56 K and 15 BB. Having Severino get some action in the big leagues in non-stress situations could go a long way for next season when the club surely anticipates his being a part of the rotation. It would also provide a way for the Yankees to maximize Severino’s value and limit his total number of innings worked.

Severino is a dynamic pitcher, one who could potentially earn time in high-leverage situations as the season wore on. A bullpen with Betances, Miller, Warren, Wilson and Severino at the top of the pecking order with the last two spots filled by Martin, Shreve, Lindgren or any of the minor league righties mentioned would be top-notch.

The reality


As mentioned early on, these are vacuum speculations. The chances of injuries occurring are certainly there, but the same names should come up when and if a pitcher was to go down. What we can take from the exercise here is that the Yankees have a number of viable options right in front of them. They do not necessarily need to make trades for high-end relievers. In fact, I would argue that they should not consider making bullpen trades unless Betances or Miller suffer a season-ending injury.

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



Wednesday, June 10, 2015

2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft Day Two: Yankees stay the course

For the New York Yankees, the 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft has been mostly about finding experienced players from the college ranks hoping to grab individuals who might make a quick impact at the big league level. On Tuesday, during the draft’s second day, the Yankees stuck with the plan but did manage to select two high school players.

The Yankees’ third round pick, RHP Drew Finley, is one of the high school selections. He is the son of Los Angeles Dodgers vice president of amateur and international scouting, David Finley.

Yankees Rounds 3-10
Courtesy of MLB.com

The younger Finley's fastball velocity sits in the 88-92 mph range, and he possesses one of the better breaking pitches in the draft. After watching a video of Finley via MLB.com, he has a compact windup and looks completely balanced in his motion.

As far as position players, the Yankees began to move across the field, but they’ve come away with five pitchers (four collegiate, one high-school) in all through their first 10 picks. That is in agreement with what I suggested should be the Yankees’ methodology; simply because pitching is an area of need for the club.

Each of the pitchers has their own appeal, and in some respects, each of them, except maybe Finley, has a chance to make an early impression and advance quickly.

There is some intriguing power among the hitters selected Tuesday. Sixth-round pick Brandon Wagner (2B) slammed 22 home runs for Howard College this season. In the seventh round the Yankees turned to Jhalen Jackson (RF), who produced 20 homers for Florida Southern College. Ninth-round choice, Ryan Krill (1B), hit 13 home runs for Michigan State University. Again, since the Yankees selected some college players, they could begin higher up the chain and advance quicker than others taken from the high school or international ranks.

In the out of the box category, Donny Sands (3B), the Yankees second high school selection, explained that he used to hit pinto beans tossed by his mother in an effort to hone his swing, since he did not possess much in terms of materials growing up. The game included his mother pitching the beans to him and he needed to hit the beans without missing for a period of five minutes. If he missed, the clock started over. It worked as Sands intends to travel to Tampa Wednesday to sign his professional contract.

See player profile capsules provided by MLB.com here and here.

Today’s rounds 11-40 will complete the draft which begins at noon EST. The Yankees next pick comes at No. 333. While the remaining picks in the draft become harder to project, there can be some diamonds in the rough. Let's see if the Yankees find any.

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



Tuesday, June 9, 2015

2015 MLB Draft Day One: Yankees go to college

The New York Yankees held their highest pick in a draft since 1993, the No. 16 selection, and went back to college for James Kaprielian a big right-hander from UCLA. The club stayed in the collegiate ranks with the No. 30 pick, University of San Diego shortstop Kyle Holder and completed the trifecta taking Indiana State's Jeff Degano with pick No. 57.

I wrote for SNY Monday that I would not be surprised if the Yankees took pitching – an area of need in my view – and would peg college standouts to fill the system. Based on what I had seen in expert mock drafts, I correctly guessed they’d tab Kaprielian if they decided to go the pitching route.

Kaprielian, with his four-pitch repertoire, might take the Acela Express to New York, much like Jacob Lindgren rode after being selected with pick No. 55 in last season’s draft. It would not be entirely shocking if Kaprielian was on a big league mound in 2016. It will be interesting and telling to see where he begins his professional career – Low-A Charleston? Or lower, with Class-A Short Season Staten Island?

The Yankees’ second pick of the night in Holder seemed like a stretch with numerous higher upside names still on the board. The Yankees surely love defense up the middle, but Holder’s lack of hitting potential is concerning. The Yanks must be banking on the fact that Holder has just recently completely devoted his time to baseball (he was recruited to play basketball as well) and that his bat can fulfill average hitter expectations. The Yankees’ system is littered with shortstops so maybe this is a depth move, with someone on the trading block in the future.

In Degano, the Yankees grabbed another college pitcher who has a chance to be on an accelerated path depending on their motives. It might not be as fast as Kaprielian, unless the Yanks decide to covert Degano into a reliever. His projections tend to reflect a back of the rotation starter, so there is some likelihood that the club utilizes him as a lefty out of the bullpen if the transition from college to the pros as a starter is stalled.

The Yankees seemed to stick with a game plan which coveted experienced players; a starter with the ability to rapidly ascend the organizational ladder, a shortstop who they must feel has untapped potential, and finally a left-handed pitcher who might be able to fill multiple roles as he progresses.

Will the Yankees look for more experienced hurlers or begin to take some speculative high-ceiling risks in Tuesday’s rounds? The draft begins at 1:00 p.m this afternoon and the Yankees' next pick is at No. 92.

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



Friday, June 5, 2015

Will Yankees continue upswing?

The New York Yankees are coming off a three-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners, which followed losing three of four games in Oakland. The Yanks have won seven of their last 10 games after a 1-10 slide. Can the club win another series and keep pressure on the rest of the American League East?

Pitching matters


Adam Warren
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
It always comes down to pitching, doesn’t it? Of course the team needs to score runs and for the most part the club can put up numbers in bunches when they are right. At home, scoring runs should not be an issue; keeping opponents at bay could.

Nathan Eovaldi gets the start Friday and he really needs to step things up. He has potential, but he must begin to translate some of it into results on the mound. Eovaldi (4-1, 4.40 ERA, 4.07 FIP) leaves me wanting more. He’s got great fastball velocity, but because his ancillary pitches are inconsistent and his pitch location is often off, he allows a ton of hits. He owns a 1.57 WHIP and all those baserunners limit the number of innings he can throw in a given game.

In the middle game of the series, Adam Warren looks to prove the Yankees made the right call by leaving him in the rotation in lieu of Chris Capuano. Warren (3-4, 3.75 ERA, 4.48 FIP) has at most 30 days from Ivan Nova’s rehab assignment commencement to prove he should remain in the rotation again. If he falters in any way and the rest of the staff is healthy, Warren could find himself in the bullpen. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since the Yankees could use a strong righty in the pen besides Dellin Betances.

In the series finale, Michael Pineda looks to build on his last start in which he outpitched Seattle Mariners’ star Felix Hernandez. While Pineda (7-2, 3.33 ERA, 2.40 FIP) has been fantastic, he could still improve on the length he is giving the Yankees in his starts. As the team’s top one or two starters, Pineda has to go deeper in games in an effort to alleviate work for the bullpen.


Who’s behind the plate?


Brian McCann is day-to-day with a sore right foot after an MRI and a CT scan revealed no major problems according to multiple reports. The Yankees did not make any 25-man moves to bring up another catcher, so McCann might miss just a little time unless the problem persists.

Yankees' backup catcher John Ryan Murphy has had a rough go with the bat this season, but he attributes it to the number of plate appearances he’s garnered while McCann has been healthy to this point.

“It’s easy for me to make that excuse and say (this role) is new to me, I’m not playing all the time,” Murphy said to LoHud Yankees Blog’s Chad Jennings. “The hardest thing is the timing. There’s no way to simulate game speed, but that’s my role and that’s my job.”

If McCann is going to get minimal playing time this weekend and into next week this could be Murphy's shot to find his stroke. Murphy will be hard pressed to match McCann’s power stats, but he has shown in the past that his bat is MLB-ready. Let’s see if he gets going with some more reps.

The Yankees are certainly better off with McCann behind the plate, from both a defensive and offensive standpoint, but Murphy has the ability to hold his own for a few days if needed.

Notables

  • The 5/2 split of lefties to righties in bullpen – how long will it last with Brian Cashman noting he’s looking for a right-hander?
  • Chase Headley leads the team in errors (12) and strikeouts (47) – That’s not what anyone expected.
  • Can Betances continue his streak of not allowing an earned run this season? I profiled Betances for SportsNet New York this week.
Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Heroics from unlikely pair key Yankees' victory

The New York Yankees (28-25) roller coaster ride is back on the chains heading up as they defeated the Seattle Mariners (24-28) for their second straight win courtesy of big hits from an unlikely pair.

Stephen Drew
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
Stephen Drew, who entered the night hitting .160/.231/.301 and coming off a two-day benching, delivered a game-tying double off Mariners’ closer Fernando Rodney {arrow remains in quiver} in the ninth inning with a 1-2 count and two outs. Drew went 2-for-5 in his return to the lineup. Dare we ask if this can jump-start his season and resuscitate his career?

Two innings later, Garrett Jones, who entered the game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter for the slumping Chris Young, roped a three-run homer to center field with two outs giving the Bombers a 5-2 lead. Andrew Miller allowed a run in the ninth but the Yankees came away with the victory.

Drew’s double was another big hit for the second baseman, who otherwise cannot find a rhythm at the plate. Drew's timely hits are one thing that keeps Yankees manager Joe Girardi from completely removing him from the lineup. The others; Jose Pirela cannot hit a lick either and apparently no one trusts Rob Refsnyder.

As for Jones, the man has also had a couple clutch hits of late and could get more playing time if it continues. Jones has received minimal starts because Mark Teixeira has been healthy {knocking on wood} and Young at one time was hitting the cover off the ball. Young is in a freefall so Jones might get some more plate appearances until Jacoby Ellsbury is back with the club. Maybe he gets a "thank you" start today against right-hander Taijuan Walker?

Of note:


Maybe David Carpenter, who allowed ANOTHER inherited runner to score (now has allowed four of nine inherited runners to score), is never going to figure things out and he’ll get the boot soon. I’ve stuck up for Carpenter but it gets harder and harder to do so. The Yankees have a decision to make today before Masahiro Tanaka is activated later today. While I went another way in speculating what the Yankees will do, Carpenter could be in trouble now. If not now, he might be when the Yankees need another pitching spot when Ivan Nova returns and potentially pushes Adam Warren to the bullpen.

CC Sabathia was decent – 5.2 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K. This is about the best we can expect from Sabathia and at this point the Yankees will be happy if that's what he provides.

The Yankees used five lefties in the game marking the first time that's happened in club history.

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



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Who loses roster spot when Masahiro Tanaka returns to Yankees?

Note: Please excuse the long break in writing on the site. I’ve been away on vacation. I’ll be writing here two-three times per week going forward and you can find my other work on the Yankees at SportsNet New York.

New York Yankees right-hander Adam Warren pitched into the seventh inning Sunday afternoon for the fourth straight game, but came up short in the win column as the offense failed to manufacture a single run. Warren has been quite effective in those starts, going 1-3 with a 2.70 ERA.

While the results for the team were not there, Warren’s performance has been good enough to maintain a spot in the rotation with Chris Capuano headed to the bullpen when Masahiro Tanaka returns to the club Wednesday. While that has been established, the Yankees have not decided who loses a spot on the 25-man roster. Let’s take a look at the options.

Capuano’s numbers (0-3, 6.39 ERA) are horrendous on the periphery, but a much lower FIP (4.20) signals that better results could be ahead for the southpaw. It’s entirely possible that Capuano does well in shorter bursts and provides the Yankees some length when a starter is unable to do so. Undeniably, Capuano is the swing-man right now.

So the question becomes; should the Yankees keep Esmil Rogers around since he was the long-man before moving Capuano over? This could go two ways.

By shifting Capuano to the bullpen, the Yankees have a glut of lefties (five at this point) and that might not play well in the long term despite the fact that none of the southpaws are LOOGYs.

Minimally, they would have Andrew Miller, Justin Wilson and Capuano as left-handers in the bullpen along with righties Dellin Betances and David Carpenter. Right now, lefties Chasen Shreve and Jacob Lindgren are also with the club. Shreve has been solid in his role, and Lindgren is a future stud.

That said, I highly doubt the Yankees would keep five lefties in the bullpen. Lindgren or Shreve would likely take the fall if the club felt five lefties was too much.

But that doesn't mean Rogers' job is safe. In my view, Rogers (4.94 ERA, 4.78 FIP) is expendable and is a detriment to the club at this point. Designating Rogers for assignment would allow the Yanks to bring back either Chris Martin, Branden Pinder or Danny Burawa to be the third righty in the pen.

So, here are the scenarios I see happening:

Option #1
Option #2
Miller (L)
Miller (L)
Betances (R)
Betances (R)
Wilson (L)
Wilson (L)
Capuano (L)
Capuano (L)
Carpenter (R)
Carpenter (R)
Lindgren or Shreve (L)
Lindgren or Shreve (L)
Martin, Pinder or Burawa (R)
Rogers (R)
DFA – Rogers


The Yanks could also send both Lindgren and Shreve down in exchange for two righties (either two new, or one plus Rogers), but I can't see that happening when essentially neither has done anything to warrant being sent down. I'd settle with Option #1, with Lindgren and any of the right-handers for now, forcing Shreve down, which stinks because he has been very good. Shreve seems like a duplicate arm with Capuano in the bullpen.

Of course the Yankees will have another decision to make when Ivan Nova is back from his rehab assignment, possibly later this month. Assuming there are no injuries at that point, the Yanks will have to evaluate the rotation and the bullpen once again. If Capuano is still faltering, and/or Rogers is still on the club and blowing up, the Yankees could move Warren to the pen at that point relieving another player of their roster spot.

What do you think the Yankees should do? Let me know in the comments below.

Logo courtesy of SportsLogos.net.

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