Friday, April 4, 2014
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF: .000/.222/.000
Brett Gardner, LF: .200/.385/.200
Carlos Beltran, DH: .182/.167/.273
Brian McCann, C: .375/.375/.375
Mark Teixeira, 1B: .182/.250/.182
Kelly Johnson, 3B: .167/.167/.333
Ichiro Suzuki, RF: .500/.500/.750
Yangervis Solarte, 2B: .600/.667/.800
Dean Anna, SS:—-/—-/—-
Melky Cabrera, LF: .333/.333/.333
Colby Rasmus, CF: .071/.235/.143
Jose Bautista, RF: .273/.529/.818
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B: .063/.118/.125
Adam Lind, DH: .429/.556/1.000
Dioner Navarro, C: .188/.176/.188
Brett Lawrie, 3B: .071/.188/.071
Ryan Goins, 2B: .000/.000/.000
Jonathan Diaz, SS: .200/.333/.200
Obviously tonight’s game is all about a big MLB debut. That’s right, Dean Anna will be making his long-awaited MLB debut tonight!
HOUSTON - Eduardo Nuñez figured the Yankees had had enough of him, so he asked for his release and got it.
The Yankees, needing to make a move on their 40-man roster to get Yangervis Solarte on it, designated Nuñez for assignment before Tuesday night’s season opener, ending the 26-year-old’s career with the club.
Nuñez, signed by the team as an amateur free agent in 2004, was disappointed by the Yankees’ decision to award the final infield spot, on the last day of spring training, to Solarte and told the club he’d like a fresh start somewhere else. That in itself is not unusual for a player to do and it likely influenced general manager Brian Cashman’s decision.
The Yankees have 10 days to either trade or release Nuñez, who will have interested parties. The Cubs, in need of infield help, could be interested, as could the Blue Jays, who need help at second and, after the Opening Day injury to Jose Reyes, short.
A source said the Astros, who would get the first crack at Nuñez if a trade isn’t worked out, could be an option, as well.
“I think it’s best for right now to give him a fresh start and we’ll see where that takes him,” Cashman said.
For those who feared a Nun-E return, fear no more.
Nunez was frustrating, but I still think he has a chance to be a useful player. But the Yankees made the right move to release him I think.
I wish him well as long as he doesn’t end up in the AL East.
Thursday, April 3, 2014
HOUSTON—Yangervis Solarte collected three hits and an RBI in his first Major League start, Derek Jeter moved one hit closer to claiming eighth place on the all-time list and the Yankees defeated the Astros, 4-2, on Thursday at Minute Maid Park.
New York picked up its first victory of the young campaign with a boost from the 26-year-old Solarte, who got the nod at third base and singled and doubled in his first two at-bats. The rookie also knocked home a run with a fluke seventh-inning single that fell between three fielders near the mound.
Jeter punched a fifth-inning RBI single off left-hander Brett Oberholtzer for his 3,318th career hit. He needs one more to tie Hall of Famer Paul Molitor.
Starter Ivan Nova had said that he thought it was important for the Yankees to get into the win column after losing the first two games of the season, and the right-hander did a good job of limiting the damage, taking advantage of four double plays from his defense.
Nova was not particularly sharp tonight, but the DP ball helped him get out of multiple jams and the Yankee offense was led by Solarte and Ichiro in picking up a much-needed win.
Are we ready for Masahiro Tanaka’s debut tomorrow? I am looking forward to it.
Brett Gardner, CF: .167/.375/.167
Derek Jeter, SS: .167/.375/.167
Carlos Beltran, DH: .250/.250/.375
Mark Teixeira, C: .286/.375/.286
Alfonso Soriano, LF: .000/.000/.000
Francisco Cervelli, C:—-/—-/—-
Brian Roberts, 2B: .429/.500/.429
Ichiro Suzuki, RF:—-/—-/—-
Yangervis Solarte, 3B: .000/.000/.000
Dexter Fowler, CF: .500/.500/1.375
Robbie Grossman, LF: .143/.250/.429
Jason Castro, C: .143/.250/.143
Jose Altuve, 2B: .286/.375/.286
Chris Carter, DH: .143/.143/.143
Marc Krauss, 1B: .000/.000/.000
Matt Dominguez, 3B: .143/.143/.571
Alex Presley, RF: .000/.000/.000
Jonathan Villar, SS: .200/.333/.200
Apparently $22M a year buys you only 2 games in a row.
Getting swept by the Astros would be an ignominious start to the 2014 season. It wouldn’t mean the season is over, but it would stink.
I’m excited to see Nova pitch, but I wish I could get excited about an offense that looks mediocre at best.
Player A vs. Player B
BR: Linear weights batting runs
zCH: Zone Rating fieldable chances
zPM: Zone Rating plays made
zRS: Zone Rating runs saved compared to average
Can Snake Eyes From G.I. Joe Never Be Portrayed as a Yankee Fan?
If you grew up in the United States during the mid- to late 1980s, it’s likely you have at least a passing familiarity with the animated series G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, based on the Hasbro toy line of the same name, about a special mission force that combats the terrorist group Cobra. One of the most famous (or perhaps infamous) parts of the show was the public service spot at the end of each episode where a member of the G.I. Joe team would give common-sense advice to young people. Stuff like, “don’t pet strange dogs” or “don’t play with downed power wires.” The kid would invariably comment about how now they know what to do, and the G.I. Joe member would retort that “knowing is half the battle.” In keeping with that theme of “knowing is half the battle” (as well as Major League Baseball’s Opening Day this week), a reader wrote in, “There’s a crazy rumor that Hasbro does not allow Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe to be portrayed as a Yankees fan in any form of media. True or false?”
Let’s find out!
Find the answer out here.
It’s fun when my sports writing and my entertainment writing cross paths in an unusual fashion!
Q&A with the Replacement Level Red Sox Blog
We are doing a slightly belated season preview Q&A with our frenemies over at the Replacement Level Red Sox Blog. The first part of ours was posted there yesterday so go there if you want to see more of me complaining about the Ellsbury contract. Here’s the first part of our questions and their responses.
What are the expectations from Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley Jr after their “disappointing” 2013s?
(Jose) I’d quibble with Bradley’s 2013 as “disappointing.” He actually played well at Pawtucket after being at Portland the year before. Expectations were unfairly raised for him with the hot spring but I think his season was exactly what you’d want from a prospect of his ilk and track record. I think the “OK bat/great glove” profile is still pretty reasonable for him. Every time I’ve seen him play the defense makes me think of Devon White, he has the same gliding style. Offensively I think .260 with 10-15 HR is probably reasonable (given 550 PA).
I’ve been a Middlebrooks skeptic but I’m buying him right now. I’m probably being unreasonably optimistic but I’m buying the story about his vision correction and the power is for real. His defense is really the frustrating thing about him, he’s terrible over there but I can see 25-30 homers.
(MCoA) What Jose said on Bradley, basically, but I’m worried about Middlebrooks. He’s still very raw at the plate and in the field, and there’s a good chance he’ll never develop into an actual ballplayer.
Is Xander Bogaerts scary or really scary? What should we expect for 2013? The future?
(MCoA) Really scary. You can see my CFBPS post for something that is disturbingly close to my honest opinion of Bogaerts. I think the coolest thing about Bogaerts is how quickly he has been improving. At 19 he earned a call-up to Portland and while he showed very impressive power, his 21/1 K/BB ratio suggested a kid who would get found out against higher level pitchers. Instead he dedicated himself to putting together better at-bats and learning pitch recognition, and the next season he drew 65 walks and struck out 93 times in 515 PA between AA and AAA. He has brought that same plate discipline to the majors without losing any of his 70 power, and to my eye Bogaerts looks like a polished middle of the order hitter already. CAIRO projects him to a .332 wOBA—I’d take the over on that. By a lot.
The only question with Bogaerts is his glove, which looks adequate at shortstop but unspectacular. He’s young and quick enough that he can play there now, but as he fills out Bogaerts may have to be moved over to third base.
Why do you have so many good pitching prospects and who do you like most? Rubby De La Rosa?
(MCoA) The Red Sox drafted insanely well during the early Theo Epstein years. 2003-2005 netted Jonathan Papelbon, David Murphy, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz and Jed Lowrie. The results trailed off from there, and the 2008 and 2009 drafts yielded basically the null set. Theo’s final two drafts were a return to form. Anthony Ranaudo and Brandon Workman were supplemental and second round picks in 2010, while Matt Barnes and Henry Owens came in the first and supplemental rounds in 2011. On top of that, the Dodgers saw fit to hand us Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa in the Nick Punto trade.
As fun as they are, all of these prospects come with notable flaws. Owens is not a hard thrower, and he has racked up strikeouts with a fantastic changeup and a deceptive delivery which doesn’t show the ball to the hitter until the last second. His control is not great. Matt Barnes has a true plus fastball that he spots well, but the rest of his repertoire is a work in progress. Allen Webster is a converted position player who is still very much learning to pitch, and this shows up in regular lapses in command. Ranaudo has an injury history as long as his limbs. Workman seems like the most consistent of all of them, but the Red Sox appear to profile him more as a reliever. (He’s made the MLB roster as a reliever, and pitched well there in the stretch run last year.) De La Rosa looked like the leading light of this group based on past results, but he has not recovered anything close to acceptable command since his Tommy John surgery in 2011, and he’s easily the most likely bust of the group.
I think Ranaudo, if healthy, should be a cromulent major league starter. From Webster, Owens and Barnes, the Red Sox should be able to develop one front-of-the-rotation pitcher. As a stat nerd, I can’t help but prefer Ranaudo’s history of quality performance to the upside of Webster, Owens and Barnes. Subjectively, Owens is probably my favorite, though. I love a deceptive lefty with a pull-the-string changeup.
The Sox underperformed while imploding in 2012 and then overperformed while growing beards (and I imagine eating less chowda than normal) in 2013. What will they do in 2014?
(Jose) I think 87-88 wins feels about right and that’s the cusp of a WC berth. The biggest thing the Sox have going for them (and in my opinion the biggest Yankee flaw) is depth. I think the Sox can handle injuries as well as any team in baseball with the exception of Ortiz and Pedroia.
(MCoA) Yeah, I spent the entire winter arguing that the Red Sox needed to add a star to get to that 90-93 win projection, and they didn’t do it. The optimism of spring has me feeling like the Red Sox are probably more likely to outperform their 86-88 win projection than to underperform. I like the upside of Bogaerts and Sizemore, and I think the club has depth to cover almost any injury, as Jose said.
Did any of you grow solidarity beards? I had a beard this winter for the ridiculous cold, it was OK, but eating became… difficult after hitting the 3 month mark or so.
(MCoA) I thought I’d come to terms with the fact that I apparently never quite completed puberty, but I didn’t shave for a bit last fall anyway. There were… splotches.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
HOUSTON—The Yankees remodeled their batting order at a price tag of nearly $300 million, a spending spree deemed necessary after too many punchless evenings last season. Through the first 18 innings of this season, they’re still waiting for returns on that investment.
They might be waiting a while.
Jacoby Ellsbury(L), CF: .000/.200/.000
Derek Jeter(R), SS: .333/.500/.333
Carlos Beltran(S), RF: .250/.250/.250
Brian McCann(L), C: .250/.250/.250
Mark Teixeira(S), 1B: .667/.750/.667
Alfonso Soriano(R), DH: .000/.000/.000
Brett Gardner(L), LF: .000/.250/.000
Brian Roberts(S), 2B: .000/.250/.000
Kelly Johnson(L), 3B: .250/.250/.500
Dexter Fowler(S), CF: .500/.500/1.000
Robbie Grossman(S), LF: .000/.000/.000
Jason Castro(L), C: .250/.250/.250
Jose Altuve(R), 2B: .500/.500/.500
Chris Carter(R), DH: .250/.250/.250
Mark Krauss(L), 1B:—-/—-/—-
Matt Dominguez(R), 3B: .000/.000/.000
Alex Presley(L), RF:—-/—-/—-
Jonathan Villar(S), SS: .333/.333/.333
Apparently $22M+ a year buys you a .200 OBP these days…
If the Yankees lose tonight, they will not finish above .500 this year.
HOUSTON — At least Derek Jeter never has to experience one of CC Sabathia’s Opening Day starts again.
Sabathia continued his trend of sloppy season debuts, getting rocked in the first two innings as the Astros cruised to a 6-2 win over the Yankees to begin the Captain’s final season Tuesday night.
“It got out of hand early,” Sabathia said. “I’ve got 34 more starts left. I’m definitely not going to pitch like I did tonight in the first two innings. I know I can pitch and I know I can get guys out. I feel great. I’m not going to beat myself up about this.”
Houston may be the worst team in baseball, again. So any game you lose to them is tough. Hopefully the Yankees can take the next two and put this one behind them.
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
CC Sabathia settled after Houston’s four-run first, but the damage was done on Opening Day.
There’s a pretty good chance that Sabathia may be the worst of the Yankees five starters at this point, but I hope he can turn things around.
The good news is that this is just one of 162 games that the Yankees will play this year. The bad news is that we have to watch them as much as 161 more times.
There were some encouraging signs, like Dellin Betances looking nasty and Mark Teixeira taking some decent swings from the left side, and even beating the shift once.
Jacoby Ellsbury , CF
Derek Jeter , SS
Carlos Beltran , RF
Brian McCann , C
Mark Teixeira , 1B
Alfonso Soriano , DH
Brett Gardner , LF
Brian Roberts , 2B
Kelly Johnson , 3B
Dexter Fowler , CF
Robbie Grossman , LF
Jose Altuve , 2B
Jason Castro , C
Jesus Guzman , 1B
Chris Carter , DH
Matt Dominguez , 3B
L.J. Hoes , RF
Jonathan Villar , SS
Still waiting to hear about the 40 man roster move the Yankees will be making to get Yangervis Solarte onto the roster.
Update: Nun-E has been DFA. I’m guessing someone will claim, maybe these very Astros.
I just don’t have my normal excitement level about this Opening Day. Maybe I’ll feel differently when I get used to all the new faces. Go people wearing Yankee uniforms!
Monday, March 31, 2014
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alfonso Soriano DH
Brett Gardner LF
Brian Roberts 2B
Kelly Johnson 3B
LHP CC Sabathia
Seeing it in front of me now, I have to say I am not all that impressed.
Sunday, March 30, 2014
CAIRO 2014 v1.0 and MLB Projected Standings
I’ve posted the final pre-season version of the 2014 CAIRO MLB projections and they are available at this link.
Yeah, I know that technically the season has already started. You can ignore the Dodgers and Diamondbacks projections if you want.
Unfortunately because of time constraints I wasn’t able to run my full set of projected standings this year. But you can check out the following places for projected standings.
And here are CAIRO’s projected standings for 2014.
W: Projected final 2014 wins
L: Projected final 2014 losses
RS: Projected final 2014 runs scored
RA: Projected final 2014 runs allowed
Div: Division win percentage
WC1: Wild card win percentage
WC2: Wild card win percentage
PS: Postseason percentage (Div + WC1 + WC2)
W+/-: Projected wins within one standard deviation
This does account for the fact that Dodgers won the first two games against Arizona, which added about one win to their final projection and an extra loss to the Diamondbacks.
This lines up about where CAIRO has the Yankees pegged with my depth charts, around 84 wins and needing some good fortune to contend for the division, particularly since they’re in what looks l like the best division top to bottom in baseball this year.
It sounded pretty ominous when Yangervis Solarte left George M. Steinbrenner Field on Friday night. Be here tomorrow, he was told, but leave your luggage at home.
It meant he still had a job with the Yankees, but no seat on the team charter that was leaving for Houston following the conclusion of the final spring training game Saturday afternoon. Eduardo Nunez, Solarte’s only rival for the last remaining spot on the roster, had been told the same thing: Be ready to play, but not to travel.
It probably made for two sleepless nights for two anxious young men.
But the anxiety of Friday gave way to the exhilaration of Saturday, when Solarte was told the Yankees had decided to bring him along as their second backup infielder, a spot that became more important when Brendan Ryan, who was signed to serve as Derek Jeter’s backup, came down with a bad back and will begin the season on the disabled list.
Still, right up to the end, Solarte thought he, and not Nunez, was about to be shipped out. The Yankees called Nunez in to the office first, and asked Solarte to wait.
“I thought that was it for me,” he said.
So he grabbed a baseball and started searching for Jeter to sign it. “I thought at least I’ll take a memento of playing with Derek Jeter with me,” he said.
Instead, the Yankees will be taking him along, not only with Jeter, but to occasionally take Jeter’s place on the field.
How awesome is that story about Solarte trying to get Jeter to sign his ball as a memento but then finding out that he had made the team?
In any event, the Yankees have not yet announced the corresponding roster move to go with Solarte being placed on to the 40-man roster and Nunez being optioned to the minors. It certainly appears as though it will not be Nunez who will be removed from the 40-man, so I guess the next best bet would be Preston Claiborne.
Friday, March 28, 2014
The final roster spot in Yankees camp will come down to the last day of the spring, as utility infielders Eduardo Nunez and Yangervis Solarte have both been told not to pack for the trip to Houston.
Dean Anna was told that he has secured a spot on the roster, and the Yankees view Anna as the replacement for infielder Brendan Ryan, who will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list. That decision leaves Nunez and Solarte in limbo for one more night.
“Weird, a situation like that,” Nunez said. “It’s kind of weird, you know? You don’t know where you’re going on the last day of Spring Training. They said it’s still up in the air.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he had “nothing else to really report” about the situation with Nunez and Solarte. Nunez has played in 270 games for the Yankees over the last four years, while Solarte batted .429 this spring as a non-roster invitee.
This seemed at first to be a bit of a shock since Nunez is on the 40-man roster while Yangervis Solarte is not, so it seemed like Nunez and Dean Anna were going to be locks to make the team, since the Yankees could just send Solarte to the minors and see what happens. However, there is a twist in the story. Apparently, according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger’s Jorge Castillo, Solarte has an opt-out clause that no one seemed to be talking about until now where he has the ability to opt out of his deal with the Yankees if another team is willing to put him on their 25-man roster, and with the spring he has had so far it seems likely that he could find a team willing to do just that, so the Yankees might be in a situation where they have to decide between losing Nunez (or another player on the 40-man roster) or losing Solarte. If that is the case, then they might prefer to just add Solarte to the 40-man roster (and if they’re going to do that, then they might as well add him to the 25-man roster, as well). The fact that Brandon Rtan might not be able to play even after he comes off of the disabled list (he likely will still need an extended spring training after his official stint on the DL ends) is another factor that suggests that the Yankees would be better off having Anna and Solarte on the team instead of Nunez, since both Anna and Solarte are not embarrassments at shortstop while Nunez is.
In addition, there is always the possibility that the Yankees have another move involving the 40-man roster coming up, like a trade (or even a possible Stephen Drew signing). Preston Claiborne has made himself extremely fungible since late last season, so I could also see him losing his spot on the 40-man roster to make room for Solarte if need be.
The Yankees must make a decision by 3pm on Sunday, so it should be an interesting weekend. Congrats, by the way, to Dean Anna for making his very first big league roster!
The Yankees have informed right-hander Dellin Betances and left-hander Vidal Nuno that they are on the club’s 25-man roster to begin the season, rounding out the last of their bullpen decisions.
The hard-throwing Betances posted an 0.73 ERA in 12 1/3 spring innings, while Nuno had a 3.38 mark in eight spring innings, transitioning to the bullpen after competing for the Yankees’ fifth starter vacancy.
“We liked the camps that they had,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Betances had a great camp. We think Nuno gives us a lot of flexibility as far as a second left-hander, but also a guy that can give you some innings if you bring him in to face a left, right, left. He’ll give you a couple of innings.”
I think Nuno is wasted in the bullpen since the Yankees have David Phelps and Adam Warren, two very good long men, ahead of him on the depth charts, so I would have preferred to see the Yankees bring Matt Daley instead of Nuno but it is really not a big deal. The bigger deal is that Betances made the team. Let us hope that he can be the bridge to D-Rob this season (and not a burning bridge to D-Rob).
Tanaka was the Yankees’ most expensive bauble in a $491 million free-agent shopping spree that follows the team’s worst season in 21 years (85-77). He brings with him a 24-0 record from 2013 and a split-fingered- fastball that Towers’ scouts not only graded as a perfect 80 (on the scouts’ traditional 20-to-80 scale) but also said was “probably the best” they’ve ever seen.
As much attention as Tanaka’s splitter gets, his slider, which he throws more often, is underrated. Yankees scout Brandon Duckworth (Tanaka’s teammate last year with the Eagles) needed to watch him throw only one live batting practice session this spring to see that Tanaka’s slider had even more bite than he remembered. “Best I’ve seen it,” says Duckworth. The slicker surface of the major league ball creates later and sharper tilt on the pitch.
“If you get a good grip of the ball, the slider is more crisp than in Japan ... a better slider,” adds Tanaka. “The problem could be that sometimes the balls can slip.” Says Darvish, who has held major league hitters to a .160 average on his slider, “I totally agree.”
“Very few pitchers throw a slider where the dot disappears,” says Yankees special assistant Trey Hillman. “A hitter looks for that dot on the baseball as it spins to identify the slider. But only a few pitchers spin the slider so fast that you can’t see the dot. I’ve only had two of them: Darvish and Zack Greinke. Now I’d put Tanaka’s slider with them. It’s that good.”
Says another evaluator from an interested team, “With his stuff he immediately becomes the best pitcher on the Yankees’ staff—and it’s not close.”
Sounds good to me.