Open Thread: March 28th Camp Notes

The Yankees lost to the Orioles 10-2 this afternoon. The two runs came on solo homers by Alex Rodriguez and Stephen Drew. Based on the video above, A-Rod knew it was gone off the bat. Carlos Beltran singled for the team’s only other base hit. Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, Mark Teixeira, and Chris Young all took 0-for-3s.

Scott Baker started and got roughed up, allowing five runs on five hits in two innings. He struck out three. Dellin Betances allowed a run for the fifth consecutive appearance and is still fighting whatever it is he’s fighting. The YES gun had him up to 94 mph, so I think it’s just mechanical. He needs to fix it soon though. Justin Wilson allowed two runs in 1.1 innings of work. Here’s the box score, here are the video highlights, and here’s the rest from Tampa:

  • Minor scare this afternoon: Didi Gregorius landed awkwardly on his left wrist diving for a ball and has been diagnosed with wrist strain. X-rays came back negative and he is day-to-day. Exhale. Joe Girardi said they hope Gregorius will be back in the lineup by Wednesday. [Chad Jennings]
  • CC Sabathia pitched in a minor league game this afternoon and allowed four runs on five hits (two homers) and two walks in five innings. He struck out seven, sat 88-91 and touched 92, and threw 69 total pitches. Masahiro Tanaka and Adam Warren threw bullpen sessions and Jacoby Ellsbury (oblique) took full batting practice for the first time since getting hurt. [Wally Matthews, Brendan Kuty, Nicholas Flammia, Erik Boland]
  • Weird moment in the Double-A game today: Gary Sanchez accidentally hit Bryan Mitchell while trying to throw out a runner attempting to steal second. The trainers came out to look at Mitchell and he remained in the game. Phew. [Kuty]
  • The Yankees still have not announced Adam Warren will be the fifth starter, but Esmil Rogers is making tomorrow’s road trip and is listed as a reliever. Evidence keeps mounting. [Bryan Hoch]
  • And finally, the Yankees named Luis Severino and Rob Refsnyder their 2014 Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Year, respectively. Congrats to both.

This is your open thread for the evening. This afternoon’s game against the Orioles will be replayed on YES at 10pm ET, if you’re interested. The Knicks and Devils are playing tonight and there’s a bunch of college hoops on as well. Talk about those games or anything else here.

Spring Training Game Thread: All Eyes On Dellin

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The regular season is now nine days away, meaning ace righty reliever Dellin Betances has nine days to figure out whatever has caused his velocity to drop and his command to disappear. I’m concerned but not panicked at this point. Betances is scheduled to pitch this afternoon and he probably has two or three more Spring Training appearances left after today, so there isn’t much time for Dellin to straighten things out.

Betances is scheduled to come out of the bullpen, so he’ll be the focal point of this afternoon’s game. He told Kevin Kernan he found some mechanical issues while watching video — “I’ve been opening up a little too much with my front shoulder,” he said — and hopes to iron things out with more work this week. Fingers crossed. Betances may only be a reliever, but he’s a very important part of this Yankees’ team that is built to win close games.

Today’s reason to watch: Aside from Betances, bullpen candidates Scott Baker, Andrew Bailey, Chasen Shreve, and Jacob Lindgren are all scheduled to pitch as well. Some have a better chance of making the team than others, obviously. Baker had a disastrous spring debut (1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 K) but has rebounded well with two strong outings (7.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K) and could sneak onto the Opening Day roster as the long man. Another strong showing today will only help his cause.

The Orioles made the trip up from Sarasota for this afternoon’s game and, needless to say, they didn’t bring many regulars for the game. Teams are in full blown “don’t let a division rival see your regulars if possible” mode at this point of Spring Training. Here is the O’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. DH Alex Rodriguez
  6. CF Chris Young
  7. 2B Stephen Drew
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. C Austin Romine
    RHP Scott Baker

Available Position Players: C John Ryan Murphy, 1B Francisco Arcia, 2B Rob Refsnyder, SS Nick Noonan, 3B Jonathan Galvez, LF Ramon Flores, CF Slade Heathcott, and RF Garrett Jones will be the second string off the bench. C Kyle Higashioka, C Eddy Rodriguez, IF Ali Castillo, and OF Taylor Dugas are the extra players.

Available Pitchers: LHP Justin Wilson, RHP Andrew Bailey, LHP Chasen Shreve, LHP Jacob Lindgren, RHP Dellin Betances, and RHP Chris Martin are all scheduled to pitch. HP Nick Rumbelow, RHP Danny Burawa, RHP Diego Moreno, and LHP Tyler Webb are the extra arms.

It’s sunny and surprisingly cool in Tampa this afternoon. It’ll be in the upper-60s/low-70s for the game. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch live on YES, MLB Network, and MLB.tv. MLB Network will be blacked out in the Yankees’ home market but MLB.tv won’t. Enjoy.

Open Thread: March 27th Camp Notes

The Yankees walloped the Phillies 10-0 in five innings and change this afternoon. The game was called early due to rain. Stephen Drew (3-for-3 with a double) and Brendan Ryan (2-for-3 with two doubles) led the offensive attack. Yup. Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira, and Brian McCann all went 1-for-3 while both Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez each went 1-for-2 with a walk. Chase Headley went 1-for-4 and Tyler Austin ended the day with a bases-clearing double.

Michael Pineda started and was pretty sharp, scattering five singles in five innings. Two of the singles were ground balls with eyes and two others were bloops. Only one was hit moderately hard. Big Mike struck out five and didn’t walk anyone. He was the team’s only pitcher of the afternoon thanks to the rain. Here’s the box score, here are the video highlights, and here’s the rest of the day’s notes from Spring Training:

  • In case you missed it earlier, Masahiro Tanaka was officially named the Opening Day starter. The rest of the rotation order was also announced, though the team still hasn’t named Adam Warren the fifth starter. That should happen soon. Ivan Nova, Andrew Miller, Chase Whitley, and Vicente Campos all threw bullpen sessions while Tanaka did some flat ground work. [Chad Jennings]
  • A-Rod is scheduled to play five innings at first base Sunday, his first game action at the position. Jacoby Ellsbury (oblique) did more tee and soft toss hitting today. Garrett Jones went over to minor league camp this morning for some extra hitting work. He’s had a crummy spring. [Bryan Hoch, Donnie Collins, Jennings]
  • Jared Burton, who was released yesterday, still has a locker in the clubhouse and has agreed to a deal to remain with the team. My guess is he will sign a new minor league contract soon after Opening Day so the Yankees don’t have to pay him the $100,000 retention bonus. Burton is sidelined with a lat strain. [Brendan Kuty]
  • And finally, CC Sabathia will not be starting tomorrow as scheduled. He’s instead going to pitch in a minor league game while Scott Baker starts against the Orioles. The Yankees don’t want Sabathia facing a division rival so close to the regular season. [Hoch]

This is your open thread for the evening. This afternoon’s game against the Phillies will be replayed on MLB Network, but not until 6am ET tomorrow. MLB Network is showing the Mariners and Royals live tonight, both the Knicks and Nets are playing, and there’s lots of college basketball on too. Talk about anything and everything right here.

2015 Draft: Brady Aiken undergoes Tommy John surgery

(San Diego Union Tribune)
(San Diego Union Tribune)

Less than a week after leaving his start for IMG Academy with what the umpire said was “tightness in his arm,” top 2015 draft prospect Brady Aiken underwent Tommy John surgery on Wednesday. Aiken made the announcement himself on The Players’ Tribune, Derek Jeter‘s site. What a world. (Jeter and Aiken have the same agent, Casey Close.)

Aiken, 18, was the first overall pick in the 2014 draft. He agreed to a $6.5M bonus with the Astros, but Houston backed out of the deal after they looked at his elbow during the physical and got scared. Aiken opted to do a post-graduate year at IMG so he could enter the 2015 draft rather than go to college and wait until the 2017 draft. Here’s a snippet of Aiken’s post at Jeter’s site:

Since last summer, a lot of people have wondered how I could have turned down a multi-million-dollar signing bonus after being picked first in the Draft. Now, I know they’ll probably be wondering about it again. I can honestly say I don’t regret not signing. It was a very difficult decision, but it also was an informed decision based on circumstances only a few people know the truth about. My family and I planned for all the possible outcomes. We weighed the pros and cons, talked with friends and mentors and doctors whose opinions we value and discussed it over a number of family dinners. This wasn’t a decision we made lightly.

Gosh, how bad does that make the Astros look? This 18-year-old kid just had his arm cut open and the first thing he did was type out an article saying he doesn’t regret passing on their multimillion dollar offer.

Anyway, there is plenty of recent precedent for teams drafting a player with an injured elbow in the first round. Just last season, both ECU RHP Jeff Hoffman and UNLV RHP Erick Fedde had Tommy John surgery in May, then still went 9th and 18th overall in June’s draft, respectively. The Nationals took California HS RHP Lucas Giolito with the 16th pick in 2012 knowing he would likely need Tommy John surgery, which he did two innings into his pro career.

The Yankees selected NC State RHP Andrew Brackman with the 30th overall pick in the 2007 draft knowing he would need Tommy John surgery, so they’ve rolled the dice on an injured player before. They also selected Florida JuCo RHP Shane Greene in the 2009 draft while he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, though he was a 15th round pick, not a first rounder. Point is, teams are willing to roll the dice of top pitching prospects with bad elbows. Hoffman, Fedde, Giolito, and Brackman were all considered top 10-15 prospects in their draft classes before getting hurt, like Aiken.

Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer said last summer the Yankees tend to lean towards college players, but Aiken seems right in New York’s wheelhouse as a big (6-foot-4, 205 lbs.) lefty with command of a mid-90s fastball, a power curveball, and an excellent changeup. I was thinking that sounds a lot like young Andy Pettitte, then I remembered Keith Law (subs. req’d) called Aiken a”pretty good version of the Kershaw Starter Kit.” So yeah, Aiken’s a great pitching prospect. When healthy, anyway.

Thanks to the compensation pick for David Robertson, the Yankees have a $7.885M bonus pool for this year’s draft, the sixth largest in baseball. If Aiken indicates a willingness to sign and the Yankees are willing to roll the dice, they have the money to make it work. They’d have to go cheap with other picks to compensate, but it’s doable. The real question is whether the Rangers (fourth overall) or Cubs (ninth) will bite and take Aiken before New York’s first pick (16th overall). Those two clubs appear most likely to gamble on Aiken given their bonus pools and draft tendencies.

For what it’s worth, both Keith Law and Jim Callis say they still expect Aiken to be a first round pick this year.

Depth Arms: Miscellaneous Non-40-Man Roster Pitchers [2015 Season Preview]

Yesterday afternoon we took at look at the Yankees’ pitching depth heading into the 2015 season, specifically the 40-man roster players expected to start the season in the minors with a chance to get called up at some point. Today we’re going to focus on non-40-man roster pitchers in the same position. Guys expected to report to the minors come Opening Day with a chance to see the Bronx at some point during the summer. Some are more likely to be called up than others, of course.

Bailey. (Bryan Hoch)
Bailey. (Bryan Hoch)

Andrew Bailey: The Ex-All Star

The Yankees signed Bailey last offseason knowing he was unlikely to pitch in 2014. Like Jon Lieber in 2003 or David Aardsma in 2011, the Yankees signed an injured established big leaguer with an eye on the following season. Lieber paid dividends in 2004, Aardsma didn’t in 2012. Such is life. Bailey rehabbed last year and instead of picking up his $2.5M club option for 2015, the Yankees signed him to a new minor league contract this offseason.

Bailey, 30, has finally returned to the mound this spring after needing close to 20 months to rehab from surgery to repair a torn shoulder capsule, a potential career-ender. He’s looked okay in camp — “rusty” is the word I would use — striking out four and allowing one unearned run on two hits and a walk in three innings. His fastball has been mostly 90-92 mph, which is encouraging, and his curveball is still a little loopy. All things considered, Bailey’s looked alright given the nature of his injury, though it’s clear he still needs some time to get ready for MLB action.

There’s only a week to go in Spring Training and it’s hard to see the Yankees taking Bailey north on Opening Day. He has yet to pitch with fewer than two days of rest between appearances and there simply isn’t enough time left in camp to get him to where he needs to be to be considered for the big league bullpen. That’s okay, that’s why he’s on a minor league contract. Bailey can go to the minors for a few weeks — I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts with High-A Tampa to stay close to the home base (and also avoid the cold weather) — and continue to work his way back.

It’s unfair to expect Bailey to return to his 2009-11 form, when he was the 2009 Rookie of the Year and a deserving two-time All-Star, but there’s at least now some hope he can help the big league bullpen. He’s fully rehabbed from his surgery and pitching in actual games, and he says he feels great too, which is important. Hopefully Bailey is able to come up at some point this summer and help the Yankees, even if he’s only a sixth or seventh inning middle reliever type. Getting that much out of him would be a win.

Baker. (Presswire)
Baker. (Presswire)

Scott Baker: Here For Use & Abuse

Baker is a good example of what Tommy John surgery can do to marginal big leaguers with okay stuff who rely on precise location to succeed. The 33-year-old returned from surgery with stuff and command that was down a grade or two across the board, hence his 5.47 ERA (4.78 FIP) in 80.2 innings for the Rangers last year. Baker is now three full years removed from Tommy John surgery, so perhaps his stuff will tick up a bit this year, but otherwise there’s very little reason to think he can contribute to the Yankees in a meaningful way in 2015. If he is on the big league roster at some point, he’ll probably be stuck working in a mop-up role until something better comes along. It’s harsh, though at this point of his career Baker’s the kind of guy the Yankees can run into the ground then designate for assignment when someone better comes along.

Nick Goody: 2015 Possible, 2016 More Likely

Goody is the first actual prospect/non-veteran retread in this post, though that’s only because I listed the players alphabetically. The 23-year-old Goody returned from Tommy John surgery at midseason last year and had a 4.60 ERA (3.63 FIP) with a 32.9 K% in 31.1 innings split between High-A and Double-A, though his walk rate (10.7%) was a bit high, which isn’t surprising for a guy coming off elbow reconstruction.

Goody was invited to big league camp and had a nice but brief Grapefruit League season before being sent to minor league camp (4.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K). He’s a classic low-90s fastball/mid-80s slider righty reliever and I think the team’s bullpen depth will push him back to Double-A to start 2015. Goody could get called up this year, but with so many bodies ahead of him, a 2016 debut seems more likely.

Jacob Lindgren: The Strikeout (& Ground Ball) Factory

Lindgren. (Presswire)
Lindgren. (Presswire)

We know all about Lindgren’s strikeout exploits by now, but I think my favorite fact is that he had a 79% ground ball rate in college and an 81% ground ball rate in pro ball last year. He’s an extreme strikeout pitcher and there’s reason to believe he’s an extreme ground ball pitcher too. His slider is that good.

As I said earlier this week, I believe the 22-year-old Lindgren is big league ready and belongs on the Opening Day roster. If the Yankees don’t agree, he’ll go to Triple-A Scranton for a few weeks before inevitably being called up. It would be a major upset if Lindgren does not make him MLB debut in 2015. He is by far the team’s best bullpen prospect and one of the very best in the game period.

James Pazos: Lefty With Velocity

When the Yankees let Matt Thornton go on trade waivers last August, Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman both mentioned Pazos by name when discussing the team’s lefty relief depth. The 23-year-old had a 2.42 ERA (2.38 FIP) with a very good strikeout rate (27.4%) and an okay walk rate (9.1%) in 67 innings between High-A and Double-A in 2014. Pazos has had a nice big league camp (4.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) but he really stands out for his stuff, specifically his mid-90s fastball and low-80s slider. He could start the season at Triple-A Scranton, but with so many lefties on the depth chart ahead of him, Pazos may end up waiting for 2016 like Goody.

Nick Rumbelow: Unconventional Dominance

Fun fact: Rumbelow leads all Yankees pitchers with 12 strikeouts this spring. (Well, he’s tied with Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka, but they’ve thrown more innings.) The 23-year-old shot up the minor league ladder last summer, posting a 2.62 ERA (2.05 FIP) with outstanding strikeout (34.0%) and walk (7.4%) rates in 58.1 innings while climbing from Low-A Charleston to Triple-A Scranton. He was lights out.

Rumbelow is a relatively little guy at 6-foot-0 and 190 lbs., and he racked up all those strikeouts with a mid-90s fastball and big overhand curveball coming from an extremely high arm slot. It’s straight over the top and unconventional:

Nick Rumbelow

You don’t see many big leaguers with that arm angle — Josh Collmenter of the Diamondbacks comes to mind, but that’s it — so it’s an uncomfortable look for hitters. The Yankees seem to like Rumbelow a lot — he still has not been reassigned to minor league camp and he was invited to Captain’s Camp in January — and I can’t blame them. He’s got good stuff and has put up remarkable numbers since being a seventh round pick in 2013.

It would surprise me if Rumbelow made the Opening Day bullpen but I guess it’s not impossible. More than likely though he’ll return to Triple-A and wait for a call-up. Rumbelow is more like Lindgren than Goody or Pazos in that I expect him to make his MLB debut this season, probably in the second half. Once he gets there, he has the potential to stick around for a while.

Luis Severino: The Top Prospect

I decided to include Severino in this post rather than next week’s farm system preview because it sure seems like the Yankees have him on the fast track, which sets him up to make his MLB debut this summer. The just turned 21-year-old right-hander climbed three levels last year, going from Low-A to High-A to Double-A on the strength of a 2.46 ERA (2.40 FIP) with great strikeout (27.8%) and walk (5.9%) rates. In fact, Severino had the lowest FIP among the 551 minor league pitchers to throw at least 100 innings in 2014. That’s pretty awesome.

As good as the numbers are, Severino is not a finished product. Most 21-year-olds aren’t. His fastball is electric, sitting in the mid-90s and regularly bumping up into the high-90s, and his changeup is very advanced for a kid his age. Severino’s slider is still a work in progress though, and there are concerns about his delivery as well. They were easy to see during his brief Grapefruit League cameo; he doesn’t use his legs much and his arm does a lot of the work:

The slider and delivery are things Severino needs to work on before becoming a regular big league pitcher. The only question is whether the Yankees will give him the opportunity to work on those things in Double-A and/or Triple-A this year, or if they’ll continue to rush him up the ladder and call him up at some point. It’s easy to understand why they like him. It’s also easy to see he could benefit from some more development time in a place where results don’t matter. Severino is a big league option this year because the Yankees are treating him that way, not necessarily because he’s ready for it.

Tyler Webb: Lefty Without Velocity

Webb, 24, is another quick riser, pitching to a 3.80 ERA (2.71 FIP) with very good strikeout (32.2%) and walk (7.5%) rates in 68.2 innings last year while climbing from High-A Tampa to Triple-A Scranton. Unlike the other young guys in this post, Webb doesn’t have standout stuff, sitting mostly in the upper-80s and occasionally touching the low-90s with his fastball. He also throws a curveball and a changeup. Webb is a stats before scouting report guy, but when a southpaw puts up numbers like this, he’s tough to ignore. He’ll return to Triple-A to start the season, though the Yankees have a lot of lefties ahead of him on the depth chart. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pazos gets the call before Webb either.

Spring Training Game Thread: Big Mike vs. the Phillies

BIG MIKE IS HERE

The rotation is set. Michael Pineda, this afternoon’s starter, will also start Game Two of the regular season in less than two weeks. Joe Girardi made it all official this afternoon. There was never any doubt Pineda would be in the rotation, it was just a question where he would slot in, which is meaningless about two weeks into the season anyway. The rotation order always gets jumbled around. Pineda just needs to get his pitch count up and prepare to face the Blue Jays on April 8th. That’s all.

Today’s reason to watch: Big Mike! His starts are always a treat. Jacob Lindgren is scheduled to pitch too. I want him in the Opening Day bullpen but who knows which way the Yankees are leaning. He’s pitched well in camp and this afternoon will be another chance for him to make his case. Also, the Phillies are starting righty Aaron Nola this afternoon.  He was the seventh overall pick in last year’s draft, though he is more of a high probability Mike Leake type than a big stuff Stephen Strasburg type.

The Yankees made the short trip over to Clearwater to play the Phillies this afternoon. Here is the Phillies’ lineup and here is Girardi’s starting lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. DH Alex Rodriguez
  7. 2B Stephen Drew
  8. CF Chris Young
  9. SS Brendan Ryan
    RHP Michael Pineda

Available Position Players: C Eddy Rodriguez, 1B Jonathan Galvez, 2B Rob Refsnyder, SS Nick Noonan, 3B Cole Figueroa, LF Tyler Austin, CF Jake Cave, and RF Aaron Judge will be the second string off the bench. C Kyle Higashioka, C/1B Francisco Arcia, and C/1B Alvaro Noriega are the extra players.

Available Pitchers: RHP Scott Baker, LHP Jacob Lindgren, LHP Chasen Shreve, RHP Chris Martin, and RHP Nick Rumbelow are all scheduled to pitch after Pineda. RHP Danny Burawa, RHP Kyle Davies, and RHP Diego Moreno are the extra arms.

Bad news: It’s going to rain. It’s not raining in Clearwater right now but it’s scheduled to start very soon, within an hour or so, and continue right through until tonight. I can’t help but wonder if the Yankees will scratch Pineda and make him throw a simulated game inside or something. He needs to get his pitch count up and getting rained out after two innings won’t help. We’ll see.

Anyway, this afternoon’s game is supposed to start a bit after 1pm ET. There is no YES broadcast and MLB Network will replay the game later, so you’re stuck with MLB.tv if you want to watch live. Either than or Comcast SportsNet if you live in the Philadelphia area. MLB.tv will not be blacked out in the Yankees’ home market. Enjoy the game. Before it rains, anyway.

Masahiro Tanaka named Opening Day starter, rotation order announced

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

As expected, Masahiro Tanaka was officially named the Opening Day starter by Joe Girardi this morning, according to the many reporters in Tampa. He will be followed in order by Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, Nathan Eovaldi, and the fifth starter to open the season. Girardi declined to name the fifth starter but all signs point to it being Adam Warren.

Sabathia has started the last six Opening Days for the Yankees. The team’s last Opening Day starter before him was Chien-Ming Wang in 2008. Yeah, it’s been a while. It was clear Sabathia would not get the Opening Day nod when it was announced he is scheduled to start tomorrow’s game. The schedule doesn’t line up. Sabathia has played in 14 MLB seasons and has started Opening Day in eleven of them. That’s kinda nuts.

As for Tanaka, he is not only the team’s best pitcher, but starting Opening Day allows him to get an extra day of rest prior to his second and third starts of the season thanks to scheduled off-days on April 7th and 16th. The Yankees have said they would like to get him extra rest whenever possible, especially early in the season thanks to the whole elbow issue. The club won’t need to use a sixth starter to make that happen for at least a few weeks.

Believe it or not, Tanaka only started one Opening Day with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan, so this will be his second career Opening Day start and first in pinstripes. Hideo Nomo (2000 Tigers, 2003-04 Dodgers), Daisuke Matsuzaka (2008 Red Sox), and Hiroki Kuroda (2009 Dodgers) are the only other Japanese pitchers to start Opening Day in MLB history. Yu Darvish was slated to start Opening Day for the Rangers this year before blowing out his elbow.

The Yankees open the regular season at home against the Blue Jays on April 6th. Toronto has not yet announced their rotation but apparently Drew Hutchison is lined up for Opening Day. I’m guessing R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle will follow in some order. The Yankees play three games against the Jays then three games against the Red Sox at home before going out on a ten-game road trip through Baltimore, Tampa Bay, and Detroit to start 2015.