Tagged: Oakland Athletics

Brett Gardner, Cole Figueroa and Masahiro Tanaka led the Yankees to a 6-2 win over the Athletics

Cole Figueroa (Getty)

Cole Figueroa (Getty Images)

Adam Warren struck out Billy Butler on three pitches to end the game and give the Yankees a 6-2 win over the Oakland Athletics in the series finale. Masahiro Tanaka pitched like an ace as he threw 7.2 innings and retired the final 19 batters that he faced.

Tanaka threw 114 pitches, which is more than any Yankee pitcher had thrown this season, and only allowed one earned run (two overall) on two hits while striking out six. He struggled in the second but bounced back very well after that.

“I thought he used his slider well and thought he used his split well,” Joe Girardi said. “His split is really important for him and he used it effectively today. The second inning was long and he became pretty economical after that. I like where he is at physically.”

Billy Butler and Mark Canha hit RBI doubles off of Tanaka in the second, but after Canha’s double to deep right center, Tanaka’s improved location of his pitches led to him retiring the next 19 batters that he faced, which included retiring the final two on strikeouts. He will now go into the All-Star break with momentum as had previously made three subpar starts.

Brett Gardner, who was named to the All-Star Game in the middle of the game as a replacement for the injured Alex Gordon, hit a homer in the first inning and was 3-5 during the game. Gardner’s three hits brought his average up to .303, which is 10th in the American League.

His 62 runs scored are fourth most in the league, his .381 on-base percentage is seventh in the AL, his 15 steals are fourth most in the league and his 21 doubles are tied for eighth. This means that he is top 10 in five different categories in the league.

“It was definitely a surprise,” Gardner said. “It looks like I know what I am doing next week. I am looking forward to it. I am excited to go represent the Yankees and represent the American League.”

Gardner, who has 10 homers this season after hitting 17 last season, is hitting with more power thanks to a different approach. “I am being a little more aggressive and trying to be more consistent at the plate.”

“I am really happy for Gardner,” Girardi said. “He is so important for our team. He has learned how to pull the ball, and that is advantageous in our ballpark.”

Cole Figueroa, who was the third baseman today, made his Yankees’ debut as he was called up from Triple-A Scranton to replace Jose Pirela on the roster. The Yankees brought him up because starting third baseman Chase Headley missed his second straight game due to inflammation in his right knee. Figueroa had an outstanding first game with the Bronx Bombers as he was 2-4 with two doubles and two runs scored in addition to being perfect in the field.

Mark Teixeira tied the game at two in the third inning with a single to right to score Ellsbury, which was his American League-leading 62nd RBI of the season. In the fourth inning off of Athletics starter Jesse Chavez, Jacoby Ellsbury, who was playing in his second game after coming off of the disabled list, singled to right to score Stephen Drew and Figueroa. That single broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Yankees the lead for good.

In the eighth inning, Figueroa hit his second double of the game on a ball that bounced over the US Trust Sign in right for a ground rule double. Chris Young and Figueroa both scored in the 8th as a result of Marcus Semien’s throwing error to first on Jacoby Ellsbury’s grounder. That was his 28th error of the season, which is eight more than any shortstop in baseball. He has made one error in every game of the series.

The Yankees are 33-6 when scoring five or more runs this season. With the win, the Yankees (46-39, 3-game lead in AL East) won the series 2-1 against Oakland and will go into their weekend series before the All-Star break in Boston against the surging Red Sox with momentum. The Red Sox have won their previous four series and nine of their last 12 games.

Teixeira’s two homers and outstanding defense helped the Yankees defeat the A’s 5-4

Yankees at Orioles August 26,  2011

Yankees at Orioles August 26, 2011

Stephen Drew’s homer in the eighth inning ended up being the deciding run in the Yankees 5-4 win over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday night. Mark Teixeira had an outstanding overall game as he made two outstanding plays on defense in addition to his two runs driven in on offense. Teixeira and Drew were both key in helping the Yankees tie their series with Oakland

“I’ve been saying it all year long, he is a run producer,” Joe Girardi said of Teixeira. “His defense is so important to us. I know we wouldn’t be where we are at without it.”

In the eighth inning, Drew hit a homer on a breaking ball that didn’t break that went off of the Fox Business sign in the second deck to give the Yankees a 5-2 lead. That was his 12th homer of the season, which gives him the second most homers among second basemen in all of baseball.

Marcus Semien hit a two-run homer to deep left off of Andrew Miller in the ninth to drive in Mark Canha to make the score 5-4. Miller came off of the disabled list earlier on Wednesday and Nick Rumbelow was sent down to Triple-A Scranton. After Gregorio Petit’s error put Stephen Vogt on second, Miller got Ben Zobrist to ground out to Petit at third to end the game and remain perfect in save situations this season.

Oakland starter Scott Kazmir left the game after three innings because of left tricep tightness. Teixeira hit both of his homers off of relief pitcher Evan Scribner. To leadoff the fourth inning, Teixeira blasted an outside fastball to right and he smashed a pitch in the same location to right field to leadoff the sixth inning. This was the second two homer game of the season for him.

He also made two outstanding plays in the field. In the seventh inning, with Bryan Mitchell pitching, Teixeira was able to catch a foul ball by Billy Burns at the railing on the Yankees dugout. He made his second Gold Glove caliber play in the eighth inning when he backhanded a hard grounder near the line by pinch-hitter Josh Reddick and was able to get to first before Reddick.

“I got a couple pitches up in the zone and put some good swings on them,” Teixeira said. “Defensively you can do it every night. Now we have three outfielders that can all go get it with Chris Young out there as well.”

The Athletics scored two runs in the second inning off of CC Sabathia, but he bounced back after that. After Billy Butler’s ground rule double to leadoff the inning, Brett Lawrie reached on an infield single after shortstop Didi Gregorius couldn’t handle his grounder near second. After Butler was easily thrown out at home because he was running on contact on Jake Smolinski’s grounder to third, Josh Phegley and Mark Canha both hit RBI singles.

After the second, Sabathia rebounded to hold Oakland scoreless in the next 3.1 innings while limiting them to two hits.  He was taken out after his 88th pitch because he has surrendered 10 leads and gets worse late in the game. Sabathia was better with his location is he had not allowed less than three runs in his previous four starts.

“CC’s location got better after the second inning,” Girardi said. “They had some right handed hitters coming up, so we took him out.”

In the second inning, after Chris Young got to first as a result of Lawrie’s fielding error, Gregorius hit an RBI double to the Gatorade scoreboard in right but was thrown out a third. The Yankees scored their second run of the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly to right that scored Young. Gregorius is improving on offense as he had a solid June and now has a .318 average in 22 July at-bats with three RBIs.

Dellin Betances was able to get back on track after after allowing one run and two runs, respectively, in his previous two appearances. He picked up two strikeouts and held the Athletics scoreless in the eighth inning. He struck out Lawrie on an outside slider and now has an impressive 73 strikeouts in 44.2 innings pitched.

“I think that is how we are going to win games, hitting the ball out of the ballpark, but it is nice to get Ellsbury back because that is another dimension,” Girardi said. “I feel pretty good about it.”

Masahiro Tanaka will get the start for the Yankees when they play Oakland at 1:05 p.m. in the series finale. The Yankees, who have a 2.5 game lead in the division, will look to win the series before going to Boston to play the Red Sox. Their rivals to the north are 8-2 in their last 10 games.

Brett Lawrie’s homer off of Dellin Betances in the 10th led to Oakland’s win over the Yankees

Nathan Eovaldi.

Nathan Eovaldi.

The Yankees lost to the Oakland Athletics, 4-3, in 10 innings on Tuesday in the first game of their three-game series in the Bronx. The Yankees had the lead against A’s ace Sonny Gray twice but gave it back and then the bullpen, which has usually dominated this season, allowed the game-tying and game-winning run.

Brett Lawrie hit a homer to deep left in the 10th off of All-Star Dellin Betances (1.65 ERA, 71 strikeouts) to give the Athletics a 4-3 lead. That was the second homer that Betances allowed this season and the last one came in his previous appearance on July 4th against the Rays. Betances, who had three strikeouts in his 1.2 innings pitched in relief of Justin Wilson, threw Lawrie a hanging breaking ball on an 0-2 pitch.

“It just doesn’t happen very often,” Joe Girardi said. “It happened tonight. It’s a game where there is the human element involved. He (Betances) left a breaking ball in the middle and he (Lawrie) hit it out.”

In the sixth inning, after Nathan Eovaldi was taken out of the game, Chasen Shreve allowed a homer to Billy Butler, who was the second batter he faced. Butler, who went 1-4, made the score 3-3 on his homer to the first row in left and hit the first of two homers off of Yankees relievers. Shreve, who had a 15-game scoreless streak, has now allowed a run in back-to-back games.

Eovaldi, who allowed two runs on six hits with four strikeouts in 5.1 innings, held the opposition to less than three runs for his fourth consecutive start. Two of his highlights were striking out Marcus Semien on an 88mph splitter in the fifth and getting 11 swing and misses during his 5.1 innings.

“I’ve got to do a better job of getting quick outs and working deep into the ball game,’ Eovaldi said.

He was taken out of the game after throwing only 86 pitches partly because opposing teams have a .378 batting average against him the third time through the order. Joe Girardi also thought Shreve would have better success against the next batter.

“Reddick had hit him pretty hard and I had a fresh bullpen,” Joe Girardi said. “The way my bullpen has been throwing I just thought I would go to Shreve. With a fresh bullpen I would do it especially lefty on lefty in that situation.”

To give the Yankees a 3-2 lead, Didi Gregorius hit a single to right center that scored Brian McCann with two outs in the fourth. Gregorius is hitting 6-18 (.333) with two RBIs in July after having a .258 average in June. McCann and Garrett Jones both hit RBI singles in the first inning off of Gray but Oakland tied the score against Eovaldi in the third.

The Yankees were 3-11 with runners in scoring position and Chris Young, Mark Teixeira and Chase Headley all hit into a double play.

Alex Rodriguez walked in the 10th to put runners on first and second with two outs. Mark Teixeira, who was 0-5 with three strikeouts, struck out swinging on a 3-2 change by former Yankee Tyler Clippard to end the game. Clippard picked up his 16th save of the season.

Girardi was impressed with the bullpen overall and thought that more run support would have helped. “For the most part, they were pretty good,” Girardi said. “It is unfortunate we didn’t score some runs for them after it was 3-3.”

The Yankees, who are 44-39 and have a game and a half lead for first place in the AL East, could not take advantage of the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays both losing on Tuesday. The Orioles and Blue Jays are both 1.5 games out of first and the floundering Rays, who are 1-9 in their last 10 games, are 2.5 games out of first.

The Athletics (39-47), who have the worst record in the American League, will play the Yankees again tonight and Thursday afternoon. Before the All-Star break, the Yankees will play a three-game set from Friday to Sunday at Fenway Park against the Red Sox. Jacoby Ellsbury and Andrew Miller will come off of the disabled list before Wednesday’s game.

Dellin Betances and Mark Teixeira are All-Stars & Brett Gardner needs to win the Final Vote contest

Dellin Betances (61) delivers home in the 9th inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium.

Dellin Betances (61) delivers home in the 9th inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium.

Dellin Betances and Mark Teixeira are the two Yankees that have been selected to play in this year’s All-Star Game in Cincinnati on July 14 at Great American Ballpark. They both deserve to be on the All-Star team and it would have been a mistake if they were not selected.

Brett Gardner, who has done a tremendous job as the leadoff hitter for the last month and a half while Jacoby Ellsbury has been on the disabled list, will make the All-Star team if he gets more votes than Xander Bogaerts, Yoenis Cespedes, Brian Dozier and Mike Moustakas between now and 4 p.m. EST on Friday in the Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote contest.

Gardner is deserving because he is fourth in the American League in steals (15), tied for third in the league in runs scored (60) and tied for fifth in the AL with his 21 doubles. He also has the ninth best on-base percentage in the league (.372), which proves that he is doing very well getting on base and being a table-setter at the top of the lineup. You can vote for Brett Gardner to win the Final Vote here.

Teixeira is having a great bounce back season from his sub-par previous three campaigns when he had various injuries. He has a .243 average with 20 homers, 59 RBIs, 37 runs scored and a .532 slugging percentage. He has not had a season when he has had a better than .500 slugging percentage since 2009, which was the last year that he was an All-Star. He is on track to easily surpass his power numbers from his last two seasons when he played more than 120 games (2012 and 2014) as he had 24 homers and 84 RBIs and 22 homers and 62 RBIs, respectively, in those two seasons.

Teixeira, who has been playing Gold Glove caliber first base, is tied for fifth in the AL with his 20 homers, is first in the league with his 59 RBIs and is seventh in the league with his .532 slugging percentage. He has been an integral part of the middle of the Yankees lineup and the team would not be in first place by one and a half games without his resurgence.

Betances, who has been one of the top five relievers in the league, was named an All-Star for the second consecutive season. He is one of only three relievers in the AL with a pitching WAR of above 1.5.

He has pitched in 37 games (42 innings) and has a 1.50 ERA, a 0.86 WHP, 68 strikeouts, five wins and seven saves. He is tied for first among AL relief pitches in wins, is first among AL relief pitchers in strikeouts, and his ERA and WHIP are both in the top five among pitchers who have pitched as many games as he has.

Andrew Miller is supposed to return from the disabled list on Wednesday, and when both Betances and Miller have been healthy they have combined to form a top two set-up and closer combo in the American League. Betances thinks that Gardner is very deserving of winning the FInal Vote and was surprised that he wasn’t already selected.

He’s very deserving,” said Yankees reliever Dellin Betances, who made the team in the players vote, of Gardner. “Obviously the numbers speak for themselves. I thought he would have gotten the call and not been in the final vote. So now, we’ve got to get him in somehow.”

Including tonight’s game against the Oakland Athletics, the Yankees (44-38) have six more games before the All-Star break.

Jacoby Ellsbury will return from the disabled list on Wednesday

Jacoby Ellsbury on the field before the Yankees' spring exhibition game against the Pirates in Tampa, Fla., Friday, March 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Jacoby Ellsbury on the field before the Yankees’ spring exhibition game against the Pirates in Tampa, Fla., Friday, March 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Jacoby Ellsbury, who has been on the disabled list since May 20 with a right knee strain, will return to the roster on Wednesday. It is important that he is returning from the DL because Carlos Beltran, who been productive offensively since the beginning of May, is on the 15-day disabled list as of July 3 due to a left oblique strain.

He played in four games for High-A Tampa (Florida State League) during his minor league rehab stint and had a .154 average in 13 at-bats. His health is more important than his average in Florida and the minor league games are for getting him back in playing shape.

He was supposed to play in another game for High-A Tampa on Monday, but he was held out of the game due to “wet fields” in Tampa. This makes sense because those conditions could potentially cause a setback.

“We scratched him because the fields were wet,’’ GM Brian Cashman said of the playing surface Monday in Tampa, where Ellsbury was on a rehab assignment with the Single-A club. “He did some simulated stuff [Monday] and will do it again Tuesday and be activated Wednesday.’’

In 37 games (148 at-bats) before going on the disabled list, Ellsbury had a .324 average with six RBIs, four doubles, 29 runs scored and 14 steals. He is currently tied for fifth in the American League in steals even though he has not played in the previous 42 games.

Ellsbury, who will likely return to the leadoff spot, will make the top of the lineup even better because he will combine with Brett Gardner, who will bat in the No. 2 spot and is having an All-Star caliber season, to add a player who gets on base often and can easily get into scoring position with his speed. With Beltran on the disabled list, the outfield will consist of Ellsbury, Gardner and Chris Young.

Ellsbury will be activated for the second game of the series at Yankee Stadium against the Oakland Athletics, who are currently 38-47 and 11 games out of first place in the AL West. The Yankees (44-38) and Athletics will play the first game of the series tonight at 7:05 p.m.

The Yankees only won one out of four games against the worst team in the American League

Adam Warren

Adam Warren

The Yankees (26-25) lost to the Oakland Athletics by the score of 3-0 on Sunday afternoon at O.co Coliseum. That was their third loss in four games to the worst team in the American League.

The Yankees, who are tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the American League East, struggled on the road during the month of May. The team played 19 games away from Yankees Stadium and they came away with a loss in 12 of those games and overall they went 13 and 16 during the second month of the season.

Adam Warren pitched 7.0 innings and this was his fourth consecutive start that he pitched more than 6.0 innings but the offense was not able to do its part to get him his fourth win of the season. Warren, whose ERA is now a solid 3.75 after it was a much higher 4.78 on May 3, only allowed allowed two runs in seven innings while recording four strikeouts. He has now allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his last three starts and deserves to stay in the rotation when Masahiro Tanaka comes off of the disabled list (this might not happen because the team needs help in the bullpen).

However, the home run proved to be Warren’s weakness once again. In the sixth inning, after Warren had retired the side in order in the fifth inning, Stephen Vogt hit a homer to drive in Billy Burns to give the Athletics a 2-0 lead. Vogt’s 11th homer of the season barely made it over the wall in right. That was the only hit the Athletics had with runners in scoring position in seven chances, but it ended up being costly for the Yankees.

“I don’t have any regrets,” Warren said. “I feel like I have given the team a chance to win.”

The Yankees had eight hits, which is as many as the Athletics had, but they were not able to score a run because they were 0-5 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base. Brett Gardner was 0-4, Carlos Beltran was 0-3 after having two hits and three RBIs on Saturday and John Ryan Murphy was 0-3 with two strikeouts.

The only highlights offensively were Didi Gregorius and Alex Rodriguez. Gregorius had two hits in three at-bats and is on a modest three-game hitting streak. Rodriguez, who was 2-4 and is on a 10-game hitting streak, is now only 14 hits away from tying Roberto Clemente and becoming the 29th baseball player with 3,000 hits. When Rodriguez gets his next hit he will have 2,987 and will have tied Sam Rice for 29th place on the all-time list.

A notable highlight from a personal standpoint happened in the second inning as Ramon Flores had his first major-league hit. The Yankees had an opportunity to get on the scoreboard in the second, but Jose Pirela hit a hard line drive to second for a double play. In the fifth inning, Gardner also grounded into a double play. Pirela hit a single during the game in addition to his hard line drive and deserves more of a chance at second since Stephen Drew has a .157 average.

“Pirela swung the bat well today,” Joe Girardi said. “We will continue to evaluate and go from there. We were not able to do much after the second inning. We have been streaky. You turn the page and then get ready for Seattle.”

Brian McCann, who had an 8-game hitting streak coming into the game, pinch hit in the ninth inning and struck out on a changeup to end the game. The Yankees were shutout for the second time this season.

The Yankees will now play a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. The Mariners are in fourth place in the AL West with a 24-26 record. The first game of the series, which will be played at 10:10 p.m. EST, will be a marquee pitching matchup between aces Felix Hernandez (8-1, 1.91) and Michael Pineda (6-2, 3.36). Tanaka will make his anticipated return from the disabled list during the series.

Here are the rest of the pitching matchups for the series:

LHP CC Sabathia (2-7, 5.67)
10:10 p.m., YES Network

RHP Masahiro Tanaka (2-1, 3.22)
RHP Taijuan Walker (2-5, 6.18)
3:40 p.m., YES Network

Slade Heathcott has been put on the 15-day DL and Ramon Flores has been called up

Ramon Flores

Ramon Flores

Slade Heathcott, who has a .353 average with a homer and three RBIs in his 17 at-bats since coming up from Triple-A after Jacoby Ellsbury was put on the disabled list, was put on the 15-day DL on Friday with a Grade II quad strain. The Yankees have called up Ramon Flores to replace him on the roster. Heathcott made four starts and proved to be much better in the outfield than Carlos Beltran.

Heatcott told reporters on Thursday that his quad had been hurting him off an on since the offseason. The former top prospect has had many injuries throughout his minor-league career and this is another one that he will have to overcome. Joe Girardi said that since Ellsbury is on the DL in addition to Heathcott, he will use Brett Gardner more often now going forward. Heathcott had been playing in center field since being called up on May 20.

That Yankees will miss Heathcott’s defense and productive play on offense, but Flores has been playing very well at Triple-A Scranton. Flores, who is 23, has hit .294/.389/.425 with four homers, four doubles and 15 RBIs. He has a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage this season with five outfield assists. The Venezuala native has one or more hits in eight of his last 10 games including four multi-hit games. He was close to being called up even if Heathcott did not get injured.

The Yankees, who lost Thursday night’s series opener to the Athletics in Oakland 5-4, will look to bounce back with Chris Capuano pitching. The pitching matchup is not on the Yankees side as Capuano has a 7.36 ERA in his two starts and Sonny Gray has an American League leading 1.77 ERA in his 10 starts this season. However, the Athletics do have the worst record in the AL.

This is the lineup for tonight’s game against the Athletics at O.co Coliseum:

Brett Gardner LF

Chase Headley 3B

Alex Rodriguez DH

Brian McCann C

Carlos Beltran RF

Garrett Jones 1B

Stephen Drew 2B

Chris Young CF

Didi Gregorius SS

A-Rod moved into 3rd place on the all-time RBIs list during Wednesday’s win over the Royals

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

The Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals, 4-2, on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees swept the three-game series from the Royals, who had the best record in the American League before the series began.

Michael Pineda rebounded from his two shaky starts after striking out 16 batters on Mother’s Day. He pitched 6.2 innings while only allowing one earned run and striking out eight. Pineda had much better command of his slider on Wednesday against the Royals than he did in his previous two starts where he allowed four and five earned runs. The only run that Pineda allowed was a solo homer to Mike Moustakas in the first inning.

Pineda now has six wins (2nd in the AL), a 3.36 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP (10 in the AL) and 67 strikeouts (4th in the AL). He was able to pitch like the ace of the staff that he is and help the Yankees sweep the Royals, who have the best team average in the AL.

A mechanical adjustment that Pineda said that he made was that he tried to stay back and keep his arm up to improve his slider. According to Pineda, he was able to not get out in front too quick like he had in his previous starts. When Pineda’s slider is on he is one of the best starters in baseball.

Brian McCann hit his sixth homer of the season in the second inning, but more significantly, Alex Rodriguez hit a home run in the third inning against Chris Young that scored Chase Headley and Brett Gardner to give the team all the runs that they would need. That homer was his 665th of his career, and increased his career total to 1,995 RBIs.

He is now behind only Barry Bonds (1,996) and Hank Aaron (2,297) on the all-time list, and now has two more RBIs than Lou Gehrig, which means that he has the most RBIs in the history of the American League, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. After his two hits last night, A-Rod is now only 19 hits away from being the 29th baseball player with 3,000 hits.

You see the guys that he’s passing, and it’s really pretty amazing,” Girardi said. ”It’s longevity, but it’s also being productive for an extremely long time.”

The Yankees start a series tonight against the Oakland Athletics (17-32), who have the worst record in the American League. Mark Teixeira and Rodriguez, who have been a key part of the team’s improved play this season, have the most homers by active players vs the A’s while playing in Oakland (Rodriguez has 21 and Teixeira has 20).

Teixeira (14 homers) and Rodriguez (11 homers) have both performed better than anyone could have expected at the beginning of the season as they are second and fifth in the American League in homers. They are both healthy and have made the offense capable of scoring many more runs than it did last year.

CC Sabathia, who is from nearby Vallejo, will get the start for the Yankees. Sabathia, who has a high 5.47 ERA and 1.42 WHIP, will look to bounce back from allowing six runs on seven hits in only 2.1 innings in his previous start against the Texas Rangers. He has showed that his stuff can still lead to a successful start since on May 16 in Kansas City he pitched seven innings while only allowing one run and striking out five.

Kendall Graveman, who is making his sixth start of the season and sixth of his career, has a very high 6.04 ERA in 22.1 innings. This is the lineup that the Yankees, who are in first by 1.5 games in the AL East, will send out against the Athletics.

Brett Gardner LF

Chase Headley 3B

Alex Rodriguez DH

Mark Teixeira 1B

Brian McCann C

Carlos Beltran RF

Stephen Drew 2B

Slade Heathcott CF

Didi Gregorius SS

The Yankees are hoping that Stephen Drew can produce on offense like he did in 2013

Stephen Drew playing second for the Yankees.

Stephen Drew playing second for the Yankees.

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 Yankees have acquired Brandon McCarthy for Vidal Nuno

Here is Brandon McCarthy pitching for the Diamondbacks.

Here is Brandon McCarthy pitching for the Diamondbacks.

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.