Tagged: Francisco Cervelli

John Ryan Murphy should be the back-up catcher for the Yankees

John Ryan Murphy

John Ryan Murphy

John Ryan Murphy and Austin Romine will be competing in spring training to be Brian McCann’s back-up at catcher. Murphy, who will be 24 in May, has the advantage because he was the one chosen to be the back-up catcher last season when Francisco Cervelli was put on the 60-day disabled list because of his hamstring injury.

Romine, who is already 26, was not very impressive when he filled in as Chris Stewart’s back-up in 2013. In 135 at-bats (60 games), Romine had a .207 average with one homer, 10 RBIs, a .255 OBP and 37 strikeouts. He has also been called up for short stints in 2011 and 2014. In 76 games (181 plate appearances), he has a .201 average with one homer, 11 RBIs, 10 doubles, 46 strikeouts and a .281 SLG%. On the defensive side, he has four errors and has only thrown out 24% of potential stolen base attempts.

Going into the 2010 season, Romine was rated the Yankees’ second best prospect, according to Baseball America. In the 2010 season, Romine was a participant in the All-Star Futures Game, which is for the best up-and-coming players in baseball. However, he has obviously not developed as anticipated.

On the other hand, Murphy had a .284 average with one homer, nine RBIs, four doubles and a .370 SLG% in 81 at-bats (32 games). His eight-game hitting streak from the end of April to the middle of May included three multi-hit games, which proves that he can help the team offensively for a sustained stretch of games. In his 48 games between 2013 and 2014, he has a .252 average with one homer, 10 RBIs, five doubles and a .327 SLG%.

Murphy has also produced better on defense than Romine. He has one error and his caught stealing percentage is 28%. (His CS% was 17% in 2014) League average for a catcher last season was 27%, which is basically the same as his CS% was in the minors (26%).

Brian McCann will ideally play in 140 games like he did last season, which means that the back-up catcher will not have much impact. In addition to McCann’s off days, he will be the DH for some games giving the back-up additional time behind the plate.

Murphy should and most likely will get the edge over Romine because he hits for a higher average, is more consistent, is more reliable behind the plate. The back-up catcher should be able to be productive when called upon while helping the team win a few games and that’s exactly what Murphy can do.

Romine is out of options, which means that he can’t go to Triple-A Scranton without passing through waivers. He will be trying to impress the Yankees in spring training, and competition is always a plus, but Romine hasn’t proved to be an asset on the major league level. Romine will make more sense starting the year with Triple-A Scranton or with another team.

Yankees 2015 Preview: Justin Wilson

Justin Wilson pitching for the Pirates.

Justin Wilson pitching for the Pirates.

Justin Wilson, who is a relief pitcher that played for the Pittsburgh Pirates for the first three seasons of his career, was traded to the Yankees on November 12 for back-up catcher Francisco Cervelli. The 27-year-old has a 2.99 ERA, 1.229 WHIP, 127 strikeouts and 61 walks in his 138.1 innings pitched (136 games).

In 2012, he made his major league debut on August 20 and would make seven more appearances the rest of the season. He only pitched 4.2 innings in those eight games, but Wilson was able to record seven strikeouts and only one run.

This successful stint at the end of the season led to him having a prominent role in the bullpen in 2013. During his age 25 season, he had a 6-1 record, 15 holds, a dominating 2.08 ERA, 1.059 WHIP, 59 strikeouts, a career-low 3.4 walks/9 innings and held lefties to a .501 OPS in 73.2 innings pitched (58 games). His very low WHIP and ERA gave him one of the best seasons in baseball among set-up men.

He was not as successful last season as he finished with a 4.20 ERA after allowing 28 earned runs, but he was able to improve his strikeouts/9 innings from 7.2 to 9.2. He had three wins, three blown saves and 16 holds in 60 innings (70 games). His ERA was higher last season because he allowed 11 more runs in 13.2 fewer innings. Wilson is due for a bounce back season because many players go through a “sophomore slump” after playing well as a rookie.

Last season, Wilson relied on his four-seam fastball (96mph), sinker (96mph), cutter (91mph) and curve (80mph). The rising action on his four-seamer results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers. His sinker also results in more groundballs compared to other pitchers’ sinkers.

Wilson is entering his fourth season, and third full season, which means that he still has room for improvement. His main weakness is that he has some control issues, as he has 4.0 walks per nine innings for his career. The strikeout pitcher will give the Yankees a second reliable lefty in the bullpen. Another positive is that he isn’t even arbitration eligible until 2016.

He will combine with Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, David Carpenter, Esmil Rogers and Adam Warren to give the Yankees one of the best bullpens in baseball. Another positive to having Wilson is that he will combine with Betances, Miller and Carpenter to give the bullpen four flame-throwers. He will likely primarily pitch in the seventh inning along with Carpenter.

Prediction:

2.98 ERA

1.210 WHIP

60 Strikeouts

17 holds

65 Games

Yankees traded Francisco Cervelli to the Pirates for a reliever who can have an impact

Francisco Cervelli

Francisco Cervelli

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.

Nine consecutive hits in the third helped the Yankees beat the Tigers on Wednesday

Shane Greene first start

The Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers, 8-4, on Wednesday as a result of an eight-run outburst in the third inning against former Cy Young winner David Price. With the win in the second game of the series the Yankees are now 2.5 games behind the Seattle Mariners for the second wild-card and six games behind the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the AL East.

In 13 starts against the Yankees from 2011 to 2013 while pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays David Price, who won the Cy Young in 2012, had a 3.81 ERA. The Yankees have hit well against him in his career, but their performance against Price on Wednesday is hardly ever seen against any pitcher in Major League Baseball. After getting three hits in the first two innings, the Yankees went onto record nine consecutive hits off of Price in the third to force him out of the game. 

Price did not record an out and all eight runs were charged to him. Jacoby Ellsbury led off the inning with a single, Derek Jeter’s 539th double of his career that drove in Jacoby Ellsbury tied him for 35th on the all-time doubles list, Martin Prado singled to left, Mark Teixeira drove Jeter in on his double to right, Prado scored on Beltran’s single to right, Teixeira scored on Brian McCann’s single to center, Chase Headley singled to left for, Brett Gardner’s infield single scored Beltran and then Franciso Cervelli’s single to left sent McCann home for the team’s ninth hit in a row.

Against reliever Blaine Hardy, Ellsbury and Jeter hit a sacrifice fly in consecutive at-bats to make the score 8-0. Here is video of the nine consecutive hits.  David Price, who has had many more dominating starts than not in his career, made a point of saying that he is human and would try to move past this performance. “That is probably the worst game I have had in my life,” Price said.

Ellsbury has been in the leadoff spot the last three games instead of his usual three spot in the lineup and has raised his average from .277 to .285. In the last three games he has gone 8-13 (.615), scored five runs, driven in five runs, stolen two bases and hit three homers. The Yankees need Ellsbury to give this kind of production and hitting first in the lineup might be a reason for it. He is hitting leadoff again on Thursday.

It is tough to get that many hits even if guys hit the balls on the screws,” Ellsbury said. “Fortunately, some balls fell for us. (Price) has tremendous stuff, I have a lot of respect for him. Obviously this was a big game for us. We didn’t score the rest of the game, but I thought we continued to put quality at-bats together.”

Jeter was 1-3 with two RBIs and on August 28 in 2011 he passed Mickey Mantle for 1st on the all-tim Yankees games played list. 

Shane Greene is only a rookie but he was the one who pitched like the former Cy Young. He pitched seven strong innings while striking out eight and only allowing two runs. He allowed an RBI double to left by Miguel Cabrera and a solo homer to Victor Martinez. His slider was his best pitch on Wednesday and he knew early on that it was effective. Greene struck out the last better he faced, Torii Hunter, on a high fastball. 

I hope it (slider) is good for me every time, but Cervelli will let me know if it’s not or if it is, just stay with him, but probably about the second I could tell I had a good slider,” Greene said. “I got to give the credit to Cervelli. I am following his lead for the most part. Like I said before, he knows these guys way better than me.” Greene has now pitched six innings or more while allowing two runs or less in three of his last four starts. 

Dellin Betances pitched the ninth inning and allowed a run on two hits. He had not allowed a run in eight of his previous nine appearances. 

The Yankees will play a matinee game on Thursday at 1:08 p.m. at Comerica Park as they try to win the series. Hiroki Kuroda will pitch for the Yankees and rookie Kyle Lobstein will get the start in place of Justin Verlander. Lobstein is making his first Major League start. The Tigers are also the only Major League team that Kuroda has not defeated. 

Pitching matchups for the series between the Yankees and Rays at Tropicana Field

 

Shawn Kelley

Shawn Kelley

After being swept in the two-game set at Camden Yards against the Orioles, the Yankees will look to make up ground in the race for the second wild-card spot when they start a three-game series against the fourth place Tampa Bay Rays. 

After the loss on Wednesday, Shawn Kelley admitted that trying for the second wild-card is more realistic at this point. “I think we’re looking more at the second wild-card spot,” Kelley said. “That’s a little bit better number, it’s a little more achievable at this point. 

The Yankees have scored more than three runs only twice in their last nine games. They have also lost their last four games and are 1-25 with runners in scoring position in those four games. 

On Wednesday, the Yankees lost to the Baltimore Orioles 5-3 in a game that it appeared that they would win. In Michael Pineda‘s first start since April, after being out due to a 10-game pine tar suspension and suffering a strained lat muscle below his pitching shoulder while throwing a simulated game during his suspension, he only allowed one run and two hits in five innings pitched. He had four strikeouts and no walks and was pitching just like he did before his injury.   

As a result of Francisco Cervelli’s two-run homer in the third Pineda left in position to win the game. However, in a desperate move by Joe Girardi, Dellin Betances was left in to pitch more than two innings for only the second time this season. Betances had four strikeouts and only allowed one hit in his first two innings, but in the eighth, Betances gave up a game-tying homer to Jonathan Schoop with one out. In 2014, Schoop has an overall average of .217 but has four homers with a .379 average against the Yankees. 

Betances was taken out of the game after the homer and Shawn Kelley gave up a single, a walk and then a three-run homer to the dangerous Adam Jones on a fastball. Jones hits the fastball better than any other pitch, so Kelley should have known to throw something else. That homer sealed the game since the Yankees only scored one run in the ninth. Kelley, who has been much worse recently, has allowed seven runs in his past three appearances. 

After Thursday’s much needed off day, the Yankees will look to find their offense at Tropicana Field. They will luckily not have to face Chris Archer, who has dominated the Yankees in his five career starts against the Bronx Bombers. The Yankees will need to score with runners in scoring position and score many more runs against the Rays than they have the past few games.

The Rays are 60-61 and have gone 6-4 in their previous 10 games. Friday’s game will start at 7:10 p.m., and Alex Cobb will start for the Rays and Brandon McCarthy get the start for the Yankees. In 2014, Cobb is 7-6 with a 3.41 ERA and has allowed two runs or less in each of his last six starts. McCarthy, who will be making his seventh start since being traded to the Yankees, has allowed two runs or less in five of his six starts with the Yankees. He has a 2.21 ERA with 36 strikeouts while pitching for the Yankees, and he has benefited from throwing his cutter more under Larry Rothschild.    

On Saturday, Shane Greene, is a rookie who pitched eight shutout innings against the Detroit Tigers in his last start and has a 2.89 ERA, will face the Rays for his first time. Drew Smyly will be making his third start for the Rays since being traded from the Tigers, and he threw 7.2 shutout innings in his last start. His ERA for the season is 3.73. On Sunday, Hiroki Kuroda (7-8, 4.03 ERA) will pitch for the Yankees and Jeremy Hellickson (1-1, 2.03 ERA) will pitch for the Rays. 

The Yankees will need to win at least two out of three to stay in the race for the second wild-card. They are currently four games behind the Tigers and will have to pass the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners to catch Detroit. 

The Yankees’ struggling offense led to the Rangers winning their first series since the end of June

Jacoby Ellsbury

Jacoby Ellsbury

The Yankees lost to the Texas Rangers 3-2 on Wednesday night, and in turn ended up losing the series to the last place Rangers. The Rangers had lost their last seven consecutive series, going back to the end of June, before winning two out of three at Globe Life Park against the Yankees. Derek Jeter, who had a pre-game ceremony with George Bush, Ivan Rodriguez and Michael Young before going 0-4, received a standing ovation before his final at-bat.

The theme of the game was once again offensive ineptitude by the Yankees. Brett Gardner hit a solo homer to leadoff the game to deep right near the Right Field Grill. This was his fourth homer of the series in which he hit .571. The Yankees would load the bases with two outs, but Francisco Cervelli grounded out to the shortstop to end the inning.

Jacoby Ellsbury hit his ninth homer of the season to right center in the third inning. That would be the last run that the Yankees would score since they only had two hits besides those two homers. Carlos Beltran had two hits, but they were both singles. Cervelli had his 10-game hitting streak end and the Yankees ended the game with 19 consecutive outs after Ellsbury’s homer. They also had six strikeouts and only two walks.

“I thought we hit some balls pretty good and just didn’t have much to show for it,” Joe Girardi said. “We need consistency in our offense. We just didn’t score enough runs.” Not scoring enough runs was a huge understatement. Colby Lewis, the journeyman starting pitcher, had a 6.23 ERA coming into the game, and the Yankees were only able to score two runs in seven innings off of him. Not including Tuesday’s game in which the Yankees won 12-11, they only scored four runs combined against the worst team in baseball.

Hiroki Kuroda allowed three runs in the first inning, as Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre and Leonis Martin drove in runs, but he rebounded to not allow any runs in the next six innings. He pitched well enough to get the win, but the offense was once again not able to help him. He has pitched the most quality starts while getting a loss of any pitcher in baseball since his career began with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008.

Kuroda was helped by a successful wheel play in the fourth inning by Chase Headley to get J.P. Arencibia out at third, and by getting Rougned Odor to strike out and Shin-Soo Choo to ground out with runners on first and second in the sixth.

The Yankees are 5-29 when they score two runs or less, which proves that the Yankees have scored two runs or less many times, and that Brian Cashman needs to acquire an outfielder who will be an improvement over Ichiro Suzuki in right before the 4:00 p.m. July 31 trade deadline.

The Yankees began their 16-game stretch after the All-Star break with a 7-1 record, but they have gone 1-4 since then. That includes losing the last two games to the Toronto Blue Jays and two out of three to the Rangers. It was important that the Yankees score a lot of runs off of Lewis, but with the loss, the Yankees now have scored four runs or fewer in nine of their past 11 games.

July 31 will bring an off day, and then the Yankees will start a three-game weekend series against the rival Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. They need to win two or three games in order to keep pace and/or make up ground in the wild card and division standings.

David Phelps’s rocky fifth inning led to the Yankees losing to the Texas Rangers

Derek Jeter swinging.

Derek Jeter swinging.

The 4-2 loss by the Yankees to the Rangers in Arlington, Texas, was their third consecutive loss after winning seven of their first eight games after the All-Star break. The Yankees were not able to overcome the offense not performing and the four runs that David Phelps allowed in the fifth inning. Phelps only allowed two hits before the fifth inning.

Phelps pitched six innings, allowed four runs, eight hits and one walk. He had a 2.96 ERA over has last eight starts to lower his ERA from 4.53 to 3.77, but the four runs that he allowed raised the ERA to 3.89. Phelps had been locating pitches very well while mostly limiting mistake pitches that hurt him.

In the fifth inning, Elvis Andrus’s single to left scored Chris Giminez to make the score 2-1. Then, with Alex Rios on first and Andrus on third, Adrian Beltre doubled to left to score Andrus and tie the game. With the bases loaded, J.P. Arencibia’s single scored Rios and Beltre. All of the runs in the inning came with two outs.

“I was throwing strikes all night, and I almost threw too many strikes,” Phelps said. “It is just frustrating. Arranibia, I have faced him a lot, he put a good swing on a decent pitch, you gotta be better than that. I feel like I have a good chance with a lefty up there. It’s on me tonight. I’ve got to go out and set the tone in the first game of the series.”

Joe Girardi said that the losing streak is due to a lack of offensive production. They have scored a combined 10 runs in their past three games. “We didn’t score much tonight, which is one of the reasons,” Girardi said. “Hopefully we come out and score a bunch of runs tomorrow.”

The Yankees only went three for 16 with runners on base, which, in addition to Phelps’s fifth inning, led to the loss. The Yankees could have scored enough runs to get Phelps the win, but the offense was anemic once again. The Yankees had 11 hits and the Rangers only had nine, but the Yankees were 0-6 with runners in scoring position. Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner went a combined six for nine with three extra base hits, but the rest of the lineup was five for 28 with eight strikeouts.

Derek Jeter‘s double in the third tied him with Carl Yastrzemski for seventh place on the all-time hits list. His single in the seventh inning put him in sole possession of seventh place on the all-time hits list. Jeter needs 10 more hits to tie Honus Wagner for sixth place. Many consider Jeter to only be behind Wagner when considering the best shortstop of all-time. Once Jeter passes Wagner sometime in August, he will retire with the only players ahead of him being legends Tris Speaker, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb and Pete Rose.

“You know, it’s quite an accomplishment,” Jeter said. “It’s tough to enjoy when you lost the game but yeah, I’m pretty sure when this season is over and done with, I’ll look back and get a chance to realize how special it was.”

The only runs for the Yankees came from two Brett Gardner swings. In the third inning against Yu Darvish, Gardner hit his 11th homer of the season, and in the fifth inning, he slugged his 12th homer. Gardner now has four homers among his five hits in 12 at-bats against Darvish. Gardner’s previous career high in homers was eight, which he set last year. Darvish, who is third in the American League in strikeouts, had a 5.32 ERA in his last four starts, which proves that the Yankees were able to help him get back to his dominating form.

Brian McCann struck out with runners on second and third with two outs in the seventh. He had an opportunity to tie the game with a single since the Yankees were losing 4-2. McCann went 0-4, with two strikeouts and was 0-2 with runners in scoring position. The Yankees are counting on him being a productive hitter in the middle of the lineup, but he is only hitting .214 in the last seven games.

The only other offensive highlight for the Yankees was that Francisco Cervelli’s single to center in the fourth gave him a 10-game hitting streak.

It is important that the Yankees acquire another outfielder like Alex Rios from the Rangers because Ichiro Suzuki is only three for his last 38. The Yankees are currently on his no-trade list, which means that he would have to agree to the trade.

The Yankees will not face pitchers the caliber of Darvish in their next two games against the Rangers. On Tuesday game, Brandon McCarthy, who has a 1.45 ERA in three starts with the Yankees, will start for the Yankees, and Nick Martinez, who has a 4.73 ERA, will start for the Rangers. The Yankees need to win these next two games since the Rangers have the worst record in baseball.