Didi Gregorius (Mariekson Julius Gregorius), who was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team trade on Dec. 5, 2014, recently did an interview with Jack Curry to discuss replacing Derek Jeter at shortstop and what his reaction was to being traded to the Yankees. He said that he is a player who is all about winning, wants to play hard and wants to get a ring. Gregorius (24), who is known for being elite defensively, actually hit his first major league home run at Yankee Stadium.
On Tuesday, it was announced that the Yankees had re-signed infielder Stephen Drew to a one-year, $5 million contract. The 31-year-old is entering his 10th season and played his first six seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks and then played for the Oakland Athletics and Boston Red Sox. He will likely be the starting second baseman to begin the 2015 season with Rob Refsnyder or Jose Pirela being the back-up.
In 46 games with the Yankees last season after being traded from the Red Sox for Kelly Johnson, Drew hit only .150 with three homers and 15 RBIs. Before being traded to the Yankees he played in 39 games for the Red Sox, and his season totals in his 85 total games came to seven homers, 26 RBIs, 14 doubles, a .237 OBP and a very low .162 average.
However, he did not have a spring training or play in the first two months of the season because a team would have had to give up a first-round pick if they had signed up earlier as a result of his qualifying offer, so he could produce stats similar to his career averages. He has a .256 average in nine seasons, which is significantly higher than what he produced last season.
He was the Red Sox shortstop when they won the World Series in 2013, and he hit .253 with 13 homers, 67 RBIs, six steals, 29 doubles, a .333 OBP and a .443 SLG percentage to go with his reliable defense at short (.984 Fielding% + only eight errors). His best season came in 2008 when he was 25 and in his third campaign with the Diamondbacks. He had career-highs of 152 games, a .291 average, 21 homers, 44 doubles and 91 runs scored. The Yankees would take anything between the season he produced in 2013 and 2008.
Refsnyder likely would have had the edge over Pirela if the Yankees did not re-sign Drew since he has more upside and is already better offensively, but since Drew is back Refsnyder will be able to compete with Pirela in spring training to either be the back-up second baseman or the starting second baseman with Triple-A Scranton. Pirela is a 25-year-old utility infielder without much upside while being able to contribute something on offense and defense. Two more months playing with the RailRiders could be beneficial for Refsnyder since the 77 games he played there last season and the only ones he has played above Double-A.
Refsnyder was a right fielder during his stellar tenure at the University of Arizona, and he will only be entering his third season playing second base. He greatly improved defensively last season as he committed 12 errors across two levels and only three of those came at the more challenging Triple-A, but in his first season playing second in 2013, he had 25 errors combined in two levels of A ball. He could use some more fine tuning at Triple-A to improve his defense.
The Yankees can’t really lose from this deal because if Refsnyder is flawless on defense in spring training and continues to hit like he did last season at Double-A and Triple-A (.318 with 14 homers) and if Drew doesn’t hit at all, Refsnyder could start the season at second and the Yankees could eat Drew’s contract. However, a scenario with a higher probability is that Drew shows some of his previous form on offense and his usual solid defense, which would lead him to start at second and Refsnyder to try to improve with the big club or in Scranton.
One other possible benefit of having Drew as the second baseman to start the season is that he will be able to be a veteran presence for the young Did Gregorius at shortstop. Gregorius, who was acquired earlier in the offseason in a trade with the Diamondbacks, has never spent a full season in the major leagues. Drew was a starting shortstop for eight seasons and played 122 games or more in five of those seasons, which proves that he could help Gregorius improve offensively and to a lesser extent defensively because Gregorius is already an elite defender.
The current rotation for the Yankees, after the recent departures of Shane Greene and Brandon McCarthy, would be Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, Adam Warren and David Phelps. Ivan Nova will slot into the rotation likely in June when he is recovered from the Tommy John surgery he had on his right elbow last April.
This is a rotation with health question marks and unproven pitchers at the four and five spots, which means that the Yankees need to overpay Max Scherzer in order to have a better season than they did in 2014. Scherzer will not turn 31 until the end of July and is coming off of two consecutive All-Star seasons.
He has only thrown more than 200 innings twice in his career (2013 & 2014), which proves that he probably will not breakdown as early as a pitcher like Jon Lester, who has done so six times. Scherzer and Lester are both 30, but Lester has made 252 starts while Scherzer has made only 198. Lester has already signed a six-year, $155 million contract with the Cubs, and James Shields, who is the other marquee free agent, is not worth signing because he is 32 and has made 285 starts.
Scherzer reportedly wants a six-to-seven year contract that could reach $200 million, which would be the second highest total contract ever given to a starting pitcher after the one Clayton Kershaw signed, but the Yankees need to listen to his agent, Scott Boras, because he will be able to be counted on to be an ace for the next three-four years. Scherzer won the Cy Young in 2013 and has had ERAs of 2.90 and 3.15 in each of the last two seasons. Also, he has averaged 32 starts, 197 innings and 209 strikeouts in the last six seasons.
He needs to be given this contract because he is a strikeout pitcher who doesn’t allow many homers or walks as he hasn’t allowed more than 18 homers, walked more than 63 batters or struck out fewer than 240 batters in the previous two seasons.
Scherzer has also done very well in some of the new sabermetric stats. He WHIP, which is walks plus hits divided by innings pitched, has been an outstanding 1.175 and 0.970 during the last two seasons. Scherzer’s FIP, which measures a pitchers effectiveness at preventing walks, homers and hit by pitches and causing strikeouts, was seventh in league in 2013 and 11th last season. He had the third highest strikeouts per nine innings in MLB with 10.29 and had the seventh best Wins Above Replacement (WAR) among starters.
Scherzer, who will be starting his eighth season and seventh complete season after making his debut in 2008 with the Arizona Diamondbacks, has not had any significant injuries during his career with the Diamondbacks and Tigers. Tanaka and Pineda, who pitched very well when healthy last season, both had their seasons interrupted by injuries.
Tanaka should be relied on next year and was an All-Star in his rookie season after posting stats of 140 strikeouts, a 2.77 ERA, 14 wins, 1.056 WHIP and only 21 walks in 136 innings. However, he missed about 11 starts after his start against the Cleveland Indians on July 8 because of elbow inflammation. An MRI revealed that he had a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. He will be a bit of an unknown until he can stay healthy the whole season, but according to Brendan Kuty, Joe Girardi said he is expecting Tanaka to “make his 32 starts” in 2014.
Pineda, who is an imposing pitcher with a 6’7″, 265 pound frame, had an outstanding 1.89 ERA and 59 strikeouts in only 13 starts. His strikeout to walk ratio was remarkable since he only walked seven batters, and his 0.8 walks per nine innings proves how effective he was. His curveball, slider and fastball combo make him very difficult to hit.
However, after being an All-Star with the Mariners in 2011 and being traded to the Yankees in January of 2012, Pineda has had tendinitis in his right shoulder and then an anterior labral tear in his right shoulder that caused him to miss the 2012 season. He began the 2013 season on the 60-day DL as he was still recovering from the shoulder surgery he had as a result of the labral tear in his right shoulder. He was activated in July and pitched six games in the minors.
He pitched his first game for the Yankees on April 5, 2014 and had his first of many dominating performances. However, while pitching in a simulated game while serving his 10-game suspension for pine tar usage, he suffered a Grade 1 strain of his Teres Major muscle below his right shoulder. This injury forced him to the miss the months of May, June and July.
Tanaka and Pineda proved to be very effective when not injured last season, but their health question marks combined with Sabathia’s decline and the fact that Warren is best suited for the bullpen proves that Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman need to give Scherzer the contract that he is looking for. If Pineda and Tanaka can stay healthy and only miss about five or six starts combined they would form an imposing top three in the rotation with Scherzer. The Yankees are already counting on Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran having better seasons than they did in 2014, which makes improving the rotation even more important towards making and advancing in the playoffs in 2015.
On Sunday, the Yankees signed the 31-year-old outfielder Chris Young to a one-year contract that is worth $2.5 million. He will be able to make $3,825,000 more in performance bonuses based on plate appearances. He will earn $200,000 for 275 at-bats, $300,000 for 300 at-bats, $350,000 for 350 at-bats, 375,000 each for 375 and 400 and $475,000 for 450 plate appearances.
Young hit a combined .222 with 11 homers and 38 RBIs last season with the Mets and Yankees. However, in 23 games after being signed by the Yankees to a minor league contract on August 27, Young hit .282, with three homers, eight doubles and 10 RBIs. The eight doubles were only four fewer than he hit in 88 games with the Mets. His month with the Yankees included hitting a homer in three straight games and stealing home.
He is a career .234 hitter with 155 homers, 486 RBIs and 130 steals. In 2010, when he was an NL All-Star while playing in his fourth of seven seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks, he hit .257 with 27 homers, 91 RBIs, 28 steals and 33 doubles. The Houston native will be the team’s fourth outfielder and was worth bringing back because if he can play the way he did in September he will give the Yankees a player off of the bench that the didn’t have in 2014.
In 2014, Ichiro Suzuki was the number four outfielder (and sometimes starter) and wasn’t able to supply the power numbers that Young will be able to. Ichiro’s .340 slugging percentage last season was the lowest among any Yankee outfielder with at least 300 plate appearances since Bill Robinson had a .281 slugging percentage in 1967. Ichiro had a solid .284 average last season, but only had one homer, 13 doubles and 22 RBIs. Young had eight doubles in only 23 games.
General Manager Brian Cashman had help from his analytical department in signing Chris Young and the signing was able to finalize the outfield for the 2015 season. He will be the fourth outfielder behind Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury.
“(Analysts) Steve Martone and Mike Fishman pushed for me to sign Chris,” Cashman said. “They felt, from an analytical standpoint, his year wasn’t as bad as it played out, that there was a potential bounce-back situation with it. We signed him up on what we think is a fair-market value, fourth-outfielder type contract. We wanted a right-handed bat with power, which doesn’t exist much in the game anymore, it seems like. He fit that category.”
Young can play all three outfield positions, has a career .990 fielding percentage and when he is on he has a solid combo of speed and power. He adjusted well to his move from Queens to the Bronx and should be able to fill in if an injury happens. The Yankees just need him to play like he did in September and not like he did the previous five months.
He also allows the Yankees to get younger because he is 31 and has played eight MLB seasons while Ichiro is 41 and has played 14 MLB seasons after coming over from Japan.
The Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers and last year’s Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer, 2-1 on Monday night at Yankee Stadium. They have now won two games in a row and are only a game behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the second Wild-Card.
Brandon McCarthy allowed zero earned runs (one unearned) with eight strikeouts in 5.2 innings pitched. The Yankees have won all of his five starts since coming over from the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he has picked up the win in four of those starts. He also has a 2.08 ERA in his last five starts, and Brian Cashman gets a lot of credit for significantly upgrading the Yankees rotation. Going from a team that is 11 games out of the playoffs in the Diamondbacks to the Yankees, who have so much prestige and a realistic chance of making the postseason, has gotten McCarthy to pitch like it is 2012.
The reason he had zero earned runs was that Marin Prado’s throwing error at third on Eugenio Suarez’s grounder led to Andrew Romine scoring on Ian Kinsler’s single. McCarthy threw 34 of his 116 pitches in the second inning, but the Yankees would not have won the game if he did not step up with runners on base. The bases were loaded with one out but McCarthy impressively got Alex Avila and Suarez to strikeout.
Joe Girardi has been impressed by how effectively McCarthy has used his curve ball. “Brandon McCarthy has used his curve ball really well,” Girardi said. “He has used it more than I thought he would.”
The Yankees scored both of their runs in the third inning. They would have scored more runs, but Ezequiel Carrera’s leaping catch near the warning track with the bases loaded and no outs might have been the catch of the year. Ichiro Suzuki ended up scoring on that catch because he tagged up from third. After Carlos Beltran lined out to second, Brian McCann’s single to right scored Brett Gardner.
Chase Headley had not played first at all in his career, but he got the start because Mark Teixeira missed the game as a result of light- headedness that began about an hour before the game started. “I have kind of given Headley a heads up that he might go over there,” Girardi said. “I told Chase this week that if I give Tex a day off you will probably play first base. I didn’t know it would be at 6:15 today.”
Gardner made an uncharacteristic mistake in the fourth as he was caught in a run down to end the inning. Prado was on third, but this base running error did not end up being costly because the bullpen was dominant once again. Matt Thornton, Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley and David Robertson combined to throw 3.1 one-hit innings while Kelley had one strikeout and Robertson had two.
David Robertson picked up his third save in as many days. “When I came in I told Joe I was good. Fortunately we got a lead and I was able to hold it down. It was a great game and I feel great that we got the win.” With his 30th save in 32 chances he is tied for second in the American League in saves. The Yankees should resign Robertson soon, as Mark Feinsand wrote, so that they can keep their dominant bullpen in tact for at least a a few more years.
Jacoby Ellsbury had his first multi-hit game since July 22nd. He was impressed by how McCarthy has pitched. “He has been tremendous ever since he came over here,” Ellsbury said. “His pitching has been great.” Gardner also had two hits and with Headley’s single he now has one or more hits in eight of his past 10 games. The Yankees, who are facing the last three Cy Young winners in the first three games against the Tigers, will be opposed by David Price on Tuesday. Price won the Cy Young in 2012.
Joe Girardi won his 700th game as an MLB manager. With Derek Jeter’s single in the third inning, he is now only three more hits away from tying Honus Wagner for sixth place on the all-time hits list. He will likely either tie and pass Wagner, who played from 1897 to 1917, this series against the Tigers or the following series at home against the Cleveland Indians.
The July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline was yesterday and it featured Yoenis Cespedes going to the Boston Red Sox and Jon Lester going to the Athletics, David Price being traded from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Detroit Tigers in a three-team trade, John Lackey being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals and Allen Craig and Joe Kelly going to the Red Sox and Austin Jackson being sent from the Tigers to the Seattle Mariners in the David Price trade to help Seattle’s offense.
Austin Jackson to the Mariners, David Price to the Tigers and Jon Lester to the Athletics are the acquisitions that will have the most impact this season. Jackson will help the Mariners offense in their quest to reach the postseason in Robinson Cano’s first season with the team, Price will anchor a rotation that now has the last three Cy Young winners (Max Scherzer, Price and Justin Verlander) and Lester will combine with Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija to form the best top four starters in baseball, just ahead of the new Tigers rotation. The new pitchers that the Athletics and Tigers now have likely put them on track to meet in an epic American League Championship Series.
The Yankees made a few trades that could improve their chances of getting into the playoffs via the second wild card spot. They acquired Stephen Drew from the Red Sox for Kelly Johnson, who is currently on the disabled list. In another trade, they received infielder/outfielder Martin Prado from the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor league slugger Pete O’Brien (33 homers this season without a true position) and either cash considerations or a player to be named later. In the third deal of the day, the Yankees claimed pitcher Esmil Rogers off of waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays and released infielder Scott Sizemore.
“We think we’re going to compete,” Brian Cashman said. “I think we’re improved. We’re going to find out if it’s good enough or not.”
Drew will be the new second baseman replacing Brian Roberts, Prado will likely mainly play in right field allowing the struggling Ichiro Suzuki to not play everyday anymore and Rogers will look to help an overworked bullpen. Prado can also play second and third, which will give Joe Girardi versatility.
The trade for Drew is questionable because he has only played shortstop in his nine seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Oakland Athletics and Red Sox. The Yankees will need him to have a quick adjustment to second base because Derek Jeter will be the shortstop until the end of the season. Even with no previous second base experience, Drew could be an upgrade defensively over Roberts because he had been struggling to make plays that he was able to make earlier in his career.
Roberts, who has been released, was only hitting .237 with five homers while Drew has .176 average and four homers in 39 games. Roberts has played in 52 more games and has only hit one more home run. The Yankees will hope that Drew’s .477 slugging percentage and .806 OPS in his last 20 games will continue. Drew had a respectable 2013 season where hit hit .253, with 13 homers, 67 RBIs and stole six bases. Even though he has been struggling this season, he should be an upgrade defensively and will be an upgrade offensively if he can hit the way he did last season. The Yankees will also have a 31-year-old playing second instead of a 36-year-old.
In Prado, the Yankees get a player who is hitting .270 this season with five homers and 42 RBIs. Ichiro is hitting .269 with a homer and 14 RBIs. He also only has a .107 average and three RBIs in his last 28 at-bats. Prado is a key addition because he has experience playing second, third and left field, so right should not be much of a transition, and he will give the offense much more production. Prado has some power as he has a career-high of 70 RBIs in 2012 and has hit at least 10 homers in each of the past five seasons.
These two trades for Prado and Drew, along with the trade for Chase Headley, makes the Yankees better defensively and offensively than they were in the middle of July. Michael Pineda could also be making his return to the rotation in the next few weeks because after throwing 45 pitches in a simulated game on Tuesday, he will make a rehab start where he will throw 60-65 pitches with Triple-A Scranton on Sunday, according to Bryan Hoch. He will likely replace Shane Greene or Chris Capuano in the rotation.
With the additions that the Yankees made there is no guarantee that they will get the second wild card spot, but they will give the team a much better chance of making up the 3.5 games that they Yankees are behind the Blue Jays and making the playoffs in Derek Jeter’s final season. The Yankees are currently tied with the Kansas City Royals and half a game behind the Mariners, who get to play the struggling Texas Rangers and Houston Astros in their division. The Blue Jays have injury issues and a questionable rotation, the Royals didn’t acquire anyone at the deadline and the Mariners still have a suspect offense.
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees have acquired Brandon McCarthy from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Vidal Nuno. Buster Olney said that McCarthy is owed about 4.8 million for the rest of the season, plus a $1 million assignment bonus. The Diamondbacks will pay more than $1 million of that. Arizona will be able to save money because Nuno makes much less than McCarthy.
McCarthy and Nuno have both struggled this season, as they have a 5.01 ERA and 5.42 ERA, respectively, but McCarthy should definitely be an upgrade over Nuno. McCarthy has pitched better recently after allowing two runs in 5.2 innings in his previous start and one run in 7.0 innings in his start on June 27.
One of the advantages of having McCarthy over Nuno will be that McCarthy will be able to give the team length in games that Nuno was not able to do. McCarthy has pitched 6 innings or more in 12 of his 18 starts, but Nuno his pitched 6 innings or more in only five of his 14 starts this season. Nuno, the rookie who was pitching in the Independent Frontier League before the Yankees signed him, allowed 12 runs combined between his starts on June 15 and June 21.
McCarthy, who is in his ninth season, has previously pitched for the Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics and the Diamondbacks. He had by far his best two seasons from 2011-2012 while pitching for the Athletics. In 2011, he had a 3.32 ERA and a career-high 123 strikeouts. In 2012, his 3.24 ERA was the lowest of his career.
The veteran righty from Glendale, California, who has a 4.21 ERA for his career should be a major improvement over Nuno. He will be able to help the Yankees in their quest to make the postseason after not qualifying in 2013 better than Nuno would have. The Yankees are currently 3 1/2 games behind the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the AL East and 4.5 games out of the second Wild Card.
The Yankees needed to add a pitcher to improve their rotation, and they were able to do that without giving up one of their better prospects. They could still look to bring back former Yankees Bartolo Colon or Ian Kennedy, who would both be improvements over Chase Whitley.
In other player news, the Yankees have designated Alfonso Soriano for assignment. He gave the team a lot of power after being acquired from the Cubs last July (17 homers in 58 games), but Soriano has only hit .221 in 2014. He also repeatedly did not come through with runners in scoring position. Soriano will likely have a team gamble on him finding his swing, but the Yankees could not wait any longer for him, especially since they have been struggling to score.