On Wednesday, 11/12, the Yankees traded back-up catcher Francisco Cervelli to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Justin Wilson, who is a left-handed reliever.
After acquiring Chris Stewart and Russell Martin, Cervelli is now the third catcher that the Pirates have received who previously played for the Yankees since November of 2012. This trade makes a lot of sense for the Yankees because they receive a lefty who can have the role out of the bullpen that Boone Logan had from 2010-2012, Wilson is a lefty who throws in the mid 90s and struck out 61 batters in 60 innings last season for the Pirates.
Wilson, who is 27 and in the prime of his career, had a 4.20 ERA in 70 appearances. He has actually held right-handed hitters to an average of only .206 in his career. Wilson is 9-5 with a 2.99 ERA in 136 appearances during his three seasons. He played college baseball at Fresno State University and was named to the College World Series All-Tournament Team in his junior season.
It makes sense that the Yankees traded Francisco Cervelli because they had an excess of back-up catchers with him on the roster. Austin Romine and John Ryan Murphy both have experience being the back-up catcher with the Yankees for periods of time, and Cervelli was able to get back more in a trade than Romine or Murphy would have been able to. The Yankees were able to deal from a deep position and get back a potentially reliable lefty reliever, which they lacked since Logan signed with the Colorado Rockies.
Briann McCann’s contract with the Yankees lasts for the next four seasons, so there was no point in having a more expensive back-up catcher in Cervelli. He is second-year arbitration eligible and has a career average of .278 after hitting .301 with two homers last season. Cervelli is already 28, so it makes much more sense to have a cheaper and younger back-up catcher.
Murphy has proven to be more talented than Romine, who is more known for his defense. It is not known which way the Yankees will go, and it is still possible one of them could be included in a trade for a shortstop, but Murphy would make sense to start the year behind McCann. Murphy, who is 23 years old, was drafted in 2009, and made his debut with the Yankees as a September call up in 2013. He hit .154 in 26 at-bats in 2013, but played performed a lot better this past season.
In 2014, many of the 32 games that he appeared in were a result of Cervelli’s hamstring injury, and he played well offensively and defensively. In 81 plate appearances, which does not include his four walks, he hit .284, with four doubles, had one homer and drove in nine runs. Defensively, he caught 201 innings behind the plate, had 10 assists and only one error. He needs to work on throwing out base runners since he only retired two out of 12 runners, but that could improve since he threw out half of them in 2013.
Murphy’s claim to fame in his career so far has been being the catcher during Mariano Rivera’s final appearance with the Yankees. He was on the mound when Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte came out to take Rivera out of the game for the last time. This past season on April 26, the catcher formerly known as J.R., hit his first career home run against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Yankee Stadium. He also had his first multi-RBI game as he combined to drive in three runs.
He has a caught stealing percentage of 26 percent in the minors, and the league average in the majors for this past season was 27 percent. This is a good sign for Murphy, and he should be able to improve on his caught stealing percentage from this past season. The Yankees still have to get the David Robertson situation resolved and acquire a shortstop, among other needs, but this trade got rid of a player who wasn’t needed and added one who could have an impact next season.
The bullpen for the Yankees will look much different in 2014 than it did in 2013. They will be without Mariano Rivera, Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain and David Huff. David “Houdini” Robertson will also be in a different role as he will be the closer this season after pitching in the eighth inning in 2013 as Rivera’s set-up man.
Mariano Rivera, who has 652 saves, has retired as the best closer in Major League history. He will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Boone Logan, who was a reliable lefty pitcher for the Yankees for four seasons, signed a three-year contract with the Colorado Rockies. Joba Chamberlain signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Tigers after seven seasons as a starting and relief pitcher with mixed results. He was very successful as a relief pitcher (Joba Rules) early in his career helping the team get to the playoffs, then mostly struggled as a starter and then his return to the bullpen included a dispute with Rivera. David Huff, who did not add much as a reliever last season, was traded to the San Francisco Giants for cash considerations in January.
The Yankees will be counting on David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, Preston Claiborne, and Dellin Betances even more this season. David Phelps and Adam Warren could return to the bullpen as well. They have brought in Matt Thornton to essentially replace Logan as the primary lefty in the bullpen. Left-hander Cesar Cabral could replace Warren or Phelps.
Robertson is ready to handle the pressure of being the closer as he has pitched well as the primary eighth inning pitcher for the last three seasons. He had a 1.08 ERA in 2011, 2.67 ERA in 2012 and a 2.04 ERA last season. He has repeatedly proven that he can get a big strikeout or grounder to strand runners that are in scoring position. Robertson has a very effective curveball that he uses when he needs to get an out. All of the advice that Robertson has received from Rivera should help him adjust to the pressure of the ninth inning.
The eighth inning is currently up for grabs. Kelley appears to have the inside track based on how he pitched last season in the seventh. He had a 4.39 ERA last season, but that is a result of not pitching well in September. This was likely because he pitched in 57 games, while his previous high was 47 games with the Seattle Mariners. His ERA was consistently in the mid 3’s in July and August. His ability to record strikeouts is an asset as he had 71 in only 53.1 innings.
Thornton, who signed a two-year contract for $7 million after pitching last season with the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox, had a 3.74 ERA in 2013. The lefty pitched a lot better against lefties (.235 batting average against) than righties (.333 batting average against) last season. His first two seasons were for the Mariners in 2004 and 2005, but he truly established himself as a solid relief pitcher in his seven full season with the White Sox. His ERA was below 3.00 from 2008-2010, and he even picked up eight saves in 2010. For the Yankees, he could close in an emergency, come in to get a lefty out in a key situation and even come in to pitch the whole inning.
Another pitcher that has the potential to be a key member of the bullpen based upon his performance last season is Claiborne, who is entering his second season. He finished his rookie campaign with a 4.11 ERA, 42 strikeouts in 50.1 innings and four holds. The righty from Dallas who was called up on May 5 did not allow any runs in his first seven appearances, and had an outstanding 1.46 ERA after his 20th game. He was on track for finishing with an ERA below 3, but struggled in September like Kelley did.
Betances, who is a towering 6’8″ righty who grew up in the Lower East Side and went to Grand Street Campus High in Brooklyn, pitched very well last season in AAA in relief. He had been a one of the team’s best prospects as a starter along with Manny Banuelos and Andrew Brackman a few years ago, but the decision was made in the middle of the summer that he would have more value in the bullpen as a result of his struggles with control. In 10 games before being called up to the Yankees at the end of August Betances pitched a total of 19.1 innings and only allowed one run (0.47 ERA).
He is able to use his intimidating presence to his advantage out of the bullpen. So far in spring training he has converted 6 and 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. His started using a slurve, which is a mixture between a slider and curveball, in 2012 after mechanical issues with his curve and has been able to use it very effectively during the spring. He has been able to control his 95 MPH fastball so far, and he needs to continue doing that.
Betances is a dark-horse, but if he continues pitching the way he has been, he could prove to be a valuable relief pitcher in the seventh or eighth inning. He is great stuff and has been commanding his pitches, so it seems like he could start the season in the seventh for the Yankees, even though a he can still be sent to AAA without being released.
Betances grew up a Yankees fan and attended David Wells’s perfect game in the bleachers, so it would be fitting if he is able to be a key pitcher out of the bullpen for the Bronx Bombers. He is unproven pitching in the seventh or eighth inning, but based on his numbers so far as a reliever and the effectiveness of his pitches, he has the possibility of being a better option than Kelley in May or June.
On Tuesday, December 17, the Yankees made two signings in Brian Roberts and Matt Thornton that have the potential to fill areas of need. The Yankees have agreed to a low risk high reward $2 million, one-year deal with Roberts, who is going into his 14th season.
Since the Yankees lost the ineffective Joba Chamberlain to the Detroit Tigers and the reliable Boone Logan to a three-year contract with the Colorado Rockies, the Yankees needed to acquire another arm for their bullpen. They signed Matt Thornton to a two-year, $7 million contract that was first reported by Jack Curry. Thornton is the second player that the Yankees have signed this offseason who has previously played for the Boston Red Sox. Jacoby Ellsbury, their new $153 million center fielder, played the first seven seasons of his career in Boston.
Thornton is coming off a season where he had a 3.74 ERA while appearing in 40 games for the Chicago White Sox and 20 games for the Red Sox. He had his highest ERA and WHIP since (3.74/1.43) his outlier season of 2007 when he had a 4.79 ERA and 1.50 WHIP at age 30 (Walks and Hits divided by Innings Pitched). Thornton, from 2008-2010, while playing for the White Sox never had an ERA above 2.74 or a WHIP above 1.07. He has also averaged better than a strikeout per inning for his career as he has 582 strikeouts in 568.1 innings.
The 37-year-old lefty from Michigan is showing signs of declining with age based on his 2013 season, but when you compare his stats from last year to Logan’s he is not really that much of a downgrade. Logan had a 3.23 ERA in 39 innings with 50 strikeouts and Thornton who pitched better in the second half last season with Boston had a 3.74 ERA in 43.1 innings and 30 strikeouts. However, Thornton is much more deserving of his 3.5 million annual salary than Logan is with his 5.5 million annual salary.
If Thornton could pitch like he did in 2012, when he had a 3.46 ERA, pitched 65 innings in 74 games while striking out 53 batters and only walking 17, then he would be a steal. He will be the primary lefty in the bullpen. Another potentially useful lefty that the Yankees have is Ceasar Cabral. The Yankees could use one more reliever with the ability to close since right now, in addition to Thornton, they have Shawn Kelley, Preston Claiborne and Cabral to combine with David Robertson in the bullpen.
In regards to Brian Roberts, the whole story with him is if he can stay healthy. He has spent his whole career as a productive second basemen for the Baltimore Orioles, when not on the disabled list. In the past four seasons, he has only played in a combined 192 games. Between 2010 and 2013, Roberts missed a substantial amount of games due to an abdominal strain, a concussion, recovery from the concussion the following season, right hip surgery and right hamstring surgery. However, in 2009, which was his last healthy season, he had a .283 average, 56 doubles, 16 homers, 79 Runs Batted In and 30 steals. Those are great numbers that prove that he can help a team in a variety of ways.
If Roberts can stay healthy he would form a formidable second base combination with Kelly Johnson, who was signed a few weeks ago. Johnson has hit 16 homers in each of the last two seasons, but is not known for being nearly as reliable defensively as Roberts is. Roberts is known for being a defensive player and an offensive catalyst. He played well to conclude the 2013 campaign since in his final 22 at-bats he hit .364 with two homers and five runs scored.
A benefit to signing Roberts and Thornton to relatively cheap contracts, and not getting one of the more expensive second basemen like Omar Infante, is that the Yankees will have more money available to potentially sign Masahiro Tanaka.
Multiple Japanese newspapers are now reporting that Tanaka will not actually be posted. The Rakuten Golden Eagles, who own his rights until 2015, are now not going to permit major league teams to bid for him. The Yankees will likely now become more interested in Ervin Santana, Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez. They haven’t been interest in them so far based on the salaries that they would command. They could still trade Brett Gardner, even though they have said they don’t want to trade Gardner, or Ichiro Suzuki for a starting pitcher.
The Yankees edged the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 2-1 on Monday night at Yankee Stadium for their third win in four games. Hiroki “Hiro” Kuroda threw eight shutout innings for his 11th win of the season. Kuroda recorded seven strikeouts to improve his season total to 110.
Kuroda has been the best starter on the Yankees this season and should get consideration for the CY Young award at the end of the season. He is currently second in the American League with a 2.33 ERA and is fourth in the AL with a 1.02 WHIP. Kuroda has also only allowed 12 homers in his 24 starts, has allowed zero runs in a start nine times and has limited the opposition to a .226 batting average (eighth in the league).
Kuroda is also deserving of the CY Young because the Yankees would not have anything close to the 60-57 record that they have now without him. He has only allowed five runs in his last 48 innings pitched is a stat that stands out. Put another way, in those 48 innings or seven starts, Kuroda has an out of this world 0.94 ERA. One more stat about Kuroda’s season is that at Yankee Stadium Kuroda has a 1.54 ERA.
A highlight on the offensive side was the Curtis Granderson, who led the majors 84 homers combined in 2011 and 2012, hit his third homer of the season in the seventh inning, which turned out to be the game winner. Granderson now has three homers in six career at-bats against Garrett Richards, who was the starter for the Angels.
In the third inning, Brett Gardner’s single to center drove in Eduardo Nunez. He now has a seven-game hitting streak and his driven in five runs in those seven games. He is not generally thought of as a run producer, but Gardner had two Gatorade showers after his two game winning hits in the series against the Tigers. Gardy is actually fourth on the team with his 39 RBIs.
The Yankees went into the ninth inning leading 2-0, but Boone Logan and David Robertson actually pitched instead of Mariano Rivera because he had pitched in three of the past four games. Rivera had blown saves in three of those games, even though the Yankees ended up winning two of those games. Logan, who had not allowed a run in his last six appearances, allowed a run to score, which caused Joe Girardi to bring in the closer of the future, David Robertson.
David Robertson came in and struck out the final two batters including former Yankee Chris Nelson, after smartly walking Erik Aybar and allowing a cheap double to Josh Hamilton. D-Rob gave the fans at Yankee Stadium some nerves, but it certainly made sense to walk Mike Trout, who is on his way to another possibly MVP season.
There was drama, but all that matters is that the Yankees got the win and they have now won three out of four games for the first time since July 10-13. CC Sabathia, who pitches Tuesday night, will need to continue his solid pitching from his last start to continue the team’s momentum. Before his last start, he had allowed 19 runs in three starts.
The Yankees are now 6.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the second Wild Card spot.
CC Sebathia finally had a quality start against the Boston Red Sox, helping the Yankees win 5-2, improving their season record to 3-10 against Boston. He had help from the bullpen as they got into some jams but never surrendered a run.
Another positive about this game was that Mariano Rivera, who has struggled against the Red Sox in the past, allowing a run in his last appearance against them, picked a save while allowing one hit.
Eric Chavez had his best game production wise since the beginning of August as he had two run scoring singles, in the first and fourth innings, respectively, almost single handedly giving the Yankees all the offense they would need.
In addition to Chavez’s RBI in the top of the fourth, Robinson Cano, hit his 36th double, which drove in Robinson Cano. That was Cano’s 96th RBI, which places him third on the Yankees and fourth in the American League.
The Red Sox would score their only runs of the game in the bottom of the fourth innings as the speedy Carl Crawford, hit his 10th homer of the season, and Marco Scutaro hit a double to left scoring a run.
In the bottom of the fourth CC Sebathia had a clutch strikeout to end the inning and the Yankees would go on to score another run, off a rare homer by Francisco Cervelli, in the bottom of the inning. Cervelli’s actions upon returning to home plate were regrettably as he should have waited until he got back to the dugout to celebrate.
However, this was only Cervelli’s third home run of his career, so possibly the reason he displayed his usual enthusiasm was because he got caught up in the moment.
Crawford made an impressive catch up against the Green Monster, on a ball hit by Robinson Cano, for the first out of the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth Sebathia gave up a double to Jed Lowrie and the Yankees were lucky a run didn’t score because David Ortiz is extremely slow. He would strike out Saltalamacchia, who likely has the longest last name in baseball, to avoid any damage.
In the bottom of the sixth, with Sebathia still pitching, with 110 plus pitches, Chevez was able to show his gold glove form from earlier in his career by fielding a short hop and making a strong throw to Mark Teixiera at first. Sebathia was in true workhorse form tonight as he threw 128 pitches through six innings only allowing two runs. This proves how much confidence Joe Girardi rightfully has in him.
Francisco Cervelli got intentionally thrown at to lead off the top of the seventh. In some ways he had this coming as he clapped emphatically when stepping on home plate after his home run. A pitcher should never intentionally throw at a hitter, but what Cervelli did is against the “code” of baseball.
The Red Sox almost regretted hitting Cervelli because he wound up on third with nobody out after Gardner bunted for a single. This almost ignited a brawl, however, the benches emptied but nothing materialized. Unfortunately, Jeter would go on to hit a double play right to Dustin Pedroia at shortstop to end any kind of momentum. That scored a run but they should have had much more.
The Yankees got lucky a second time with David Oritiz running as he stopped at third on Crawford’s single to left field. Logan would then strike out Saltalamacchia, which would be Jared’s second strikeout with men on base. Logan would go on to pick up back-to-back strikeouts as Darnell Macdonald would swing at a pitch high and outside, to end the seventh inning.
Nick Swisher continued his recent hot hitting, which mirrors how he raked during his All-star campaign last season, as he hit a single in the eighth just inside the foul line to send Cano to third. This culminated a 3-3 game for him. After Posada walked to force the bases loaded, Cervelli could not continue to give the Yankees any more magic as he grounded out to Pedroia to keep the score 5-2.
In order to catch the towering fly ball hit by Marco Scutaro, in the bottom of the eighth, Brett Gardner had to use all of his blazing speed to catch up with the ball. It was almost a SportsCenter top 10 worthy catch.
The Red Sox would threaten to score in the ninth, as Ortiz smacked a double to shallow right and Saltalamacchia got hit by a pitch, but as stated above, Rivera was able to limit their scoring opportunity.
John Lackey gave up four earned runs, but five overall, during the game. The Yankees should have scored more but that was the minimum amount that would have been acceptable against Lackey what has been struggling the whole season.
However, tonight the Yankees will not have the privilege of facing a pitcher who is not living up to his contract. Josh Beckett has an 11-5 record, a 2.43 ERA and is a CY Young candidate just like Sebathia (and the likely winner Justin Verlander). If Sebathia had not struggled so much in his first four starts against the Red Sox he would probably be even with Verlander right now.
Phil Hughes has pitched very well in five out of his seven starts since coming off of the disabled list, so, if he can deliver a quality start the Yankees will have a great chance since Beckett has a 5.37 career record against the Bronx Bombers.
Derek Jeter is 0-9 in his last two games, while missing the last game of the Orioles series because of a minor injury, but hopefully he can get back on track tonight against Beckett, who he is hitting .282 against for his career.
One of the Yankees top prospects, catcher Jesus Montero, will join the Yankees from AAA Scranton for the series finale. He is more known for his offense than his defense behind the plate.
The Oakland Athletics edged the Yankees, 6-5, on Tuesday night, as the Yankees staged a late rally which fell just a few feet short.
With his single to center in the third Jeter achieved yet another multi hit game. However, with runners on first and second Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixiera could not convert. To end the bottom of the third inning Teixiera made a play that required cat like reflexes to reach for a line drive and double off Josh Willingham at first.
In the top of the seventh, with the Yankees down 3-0, and a runner on first, Russell Martin made an outstanding stop to prevent Cliff Pennington from getting to second. Unfortunately, Kurt Suzuki would go on to hit a double down the left field line to move Pennington to second, knocking Colon out of the game.
The Athletics’ offense continued to hurt the Yankees pitching as pinch-hitter Scott Sizemore smashed a double off of reliever Boone Logan that drove in Suzuki and Pennington. In recent outings Logan had been pitching very impressively so hopefully this does not last.
Derek Jeter was just about the only bright spot through eight innings for the Yankees as he led off the inning with a single. If he is able to have a three-for-three game tomorrow his average will be all the way up to .300. This is very impressive after his underwhelming start to the season.
However, later in the inning Nick Swisher came up in the nick of time as he hit a three run homer into the Yankees bullpen to force the A’s to go to their bullpen. Then off of Andrew Bailey, the A’s closer, Jorge Posada hit a deep blast into the bleachers. He has hit pretty well since being demoted, and in his last five games where he has at least one at bat he has seven hits and seven RBI.
Russell Martin hit a double to the gap and then Brett Gardner got on first because of third baseman Scott Sizermore’s fielding error. It would have been a close play because of Gardner’s blazing speed but since it was in Sizemore’s glove and bounced out the error call made sense. Bailey walked Granderson on a full-count to load the bases for Teixiera.
Teixeira popped out and Granderson walked, but Swisher came so very close to hitting a grand slam but it ended up being a very long fly ball that landed in Coco Crisp’s glove, on the warning track, in centerfield. The Yankees left runners in scoring position with two outs five times, with Swisher twice being the culprit, so if they would have converted on one or two of these opportunities the outcome might have been different.
Part of the reason Bailey allowed two hits, a walk and homer might have been because he had extra nerves since he was pitching near his hometown in Voorhees, New Jersey and also where he went to college at Wagner in Staten Island.
Logan came into this game having not allowed a run in his last three appearances, the Yankees likely would have won. This is because he gave up the double to Logan, which scored two runs, and gave Colon give five earned runs on the evening.
Colon really did not pitch that poorly because through six innings he had only allowed three runs and that is a quality start. Two of those runs were solo home-runs but he has not won a game during the month of August.
Brandon Allen hit two solo home runs during the game and he has really taken advantage of his trade to the Athletics, on July 31st. His first home run, in the second inning off of Colon, was a mammoth shot into the upper deck. He is only the second player to launch one into the upper deck at the new Yankee Stadium.
The Athletics are not known for their offense, as they are 12th in the AL in runs scored. They only scored 3.3 runs per game in the first half but have scored considerably more since then.
CC Sebathia, who is very reliable and a CY Young candidate, will try to revert Oakland back to their pre All-Star break form. Trevor Cahill is slated to pitch for the A’s, who was an All-Star and in the top five in lowest ERA last season, but has struggled this season with a 4.17 ERA.
Since the Yankees lost last night and the Red Sox won they are now in a virtual tie for first place. Boston is playing the Rangers tonight, and the Rangers are winning the season series 4-1. Hopefully the Yankees will be able to take advantage of facing inferior completion for six more games before battling Boston.