Yankees Acquire Steve Pearce (Again), DFA Brandon Laird

Per MLB Trade Rumors: The Yankees have acquired Steve Pearce from the Astros for cash considerations, the teams announced. Pearce, who played for the Yankees’ Triple-A team earlier this year, will provide New York with a right-handed bat for the final month of the season. Joel Sherman of the New York Post first reported that the sides were nearing a deal (Twitter link). The Yankees have designated Brandon Laird for assignment, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). The move creates roster space for Steve Pearce, who was acquired from the Astros today. Steve Pearce has been moving around a lot Continue reading Yankees Acquire Steve Pearce (Again), DFA Brandon Laird

Could the Yankees become the Red Sox?

While observing that the weekend’s mega trade between the Dodgers and Red Sox represent a concession of the playoff race by the latter, Wallace Matthews asking a somewhat unnerving question: could the Yankees find themselves in a similar position as the one Boston was in last week?

Could their high-priced roster, already bloated with three contracts worth more than $100 million and probably about to add at least one more, Robinson Cano’s, in the next couple of years, become the same kind of albatross to Yankees ownership as the Red Sox became to theirs?

Is it possible that the Yankees, too, could someday be forced to dismantle, reload, or even — gasp! — rebuild?

On the surface, you would think not. The ballpark is a voracious beast that must be fed 40,000-plus well-heeled individuals, along with their wallets, on a daily basis in order to survive. It’s nearly unfathomable that the Yankees would ever be forced to raise the white flag on a season with more than a month of baseball to play.

Call me a pessimist, but I don’t necessarily think that’s unlikely at all. Remember that Boston’s biggest problem all year has been their shoddy pitching staff, and then consider that the Yankees have just three “established” big league starters under control for the 2014 season right now. The three? C.C. Sabathia, Ivan Nova, and Michael Pineda. You can toss in David Phelps as a fourth, if you want, but that doesn’t really change the outlook any. And with the minor league options behind them all taking a step backwards in one way or another and a supposedly hard budget cap making it next to impossible to augment the staff with any free agent upgrades not plucked from the scrap heap (it’s even possible that Phil Hughes will prove unaffordable to them, as he’s eligible for free agency after next season), it isn’t remotely outside the realm of possibility that the team’s pitching is just brutal in a couple of years.

Not that that’s guaranteed, of course. The Yankees will have other contracts coming off of the books that will allow them at least a little bit of wiggle room in the interim time period, but they also have to presumably give Robinson Cano a raise, and we’re not even going to get into what will happen if Mariano Rivera decides that he isn’t ready to retire before then. Either way, if the Yankees already kind of are the Red Sox (without the drama anyway), and they’re just hoping that they don’t catch the same string of bad luck that affected Beantown this summer. Continue reading Could the Yankees become the Red Sox?

One reason the Yankee offense has steadily declined since 2009

The Yankees just completed a miserable 2-4 road trip on which the team averaged just three runs per game. This stretch of games isn’t representative of the true abilities of the Yankee offense, but it highlights the fact that the team just isn’t putting the same kind of hitters in the batter’s box that it used to. In 2009 the Yankees scored 915 runs, or 5.65 per game. Since then the offense has steadily lost its fizzle (comparatively, of course) leading to the 2012 team that has scored 615 runs over its first 127 games, or 4.84 runs per game. Continue reading One reason the Yankee offense has steadily declined since 2009

Great moments in wily-veteranism

If you don’t get follow baseball on the west coast very closely, you might not realize what a rough season Giants’ ace Tim Lincecum is having. The former two-time Cy Young winner is pitching to a 5.30 ERA and has a BB/9 of 4.05, prompting a lot of concern in San Francisco and leading to a lot of suggestions as to how to “fix” The Freak. Luckily for Lincecum, Braves’ starter Tim Hudson solved everything after last night’s match up of the two by pointing out something I’m sure no one else thought of:

He doesn’t have to make every pitch a swing-and-miss pitch. I was the same way when I was younger. You feel like a stud out there when people swing and miss. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve preached to our young guys that strikeouts are sexy, but outs are outs, man, no matter how you get them. It’s a lot cooler for me pitching in the seventh or eighth inning than it is going 5 1/3. Your manager likes it a lot more, too.

I can only assume the statement ended with, “oh, and stay off my lawn too, rook.”

Put aside the fact the whole “talking down to a two time Cy Young winner like he’s a struggling minor leaguer” thing for a moment, and there’s still gobs of funny, funny, stuff in Hudson’s turn to good old fashioned crankery:

1) If Hudson was ever trying to make every pitch a swing and a miss, he failed miserably, and the idea that he was ever a strikeout pitcher is…interesting. Leaving aside his first season in the majors and looking only at full big league seasons, Hudson’s best K/9 was a 7.52 mark in 2000, the only time in his career he’s struck out at least seven batters per nine innings (again, leaving aside his partial season in 1999). Lincecum has never struck out fewer than nine batters per nine innings.

2) Going deep into games? During those two Cy Young seasons, in which Lincecum struck out over 10 batters per nine innings pitched both times, The Freak pitched 227 and 225.1 innings, respectively. Hudson has surpasssed those totals four times in his career, but only once since 2003.

3) As for not being afraid of pitching in the strikezone, well, Hudson apparently hasn’t actually watched very many of Lincecum’s outings this season, because the notion that he’s just not getting enough contact against him is pretty hilarious. In fact, you can most directly trace his huge ERA to his line drive and HR/FB rates, both of which are easily at career high levels for him this season. His walk rate is also elevated, but only to the point that he clocks in with a still respectable 3.83 FIP.

This has nothing to do with anything, really, other than that it amused me on a slow Monday morning and serves as an alternative to fuming about the USADA. Continue reading Great moments in wily-veteranism

The surprisingly productive Ichiro

In retrospect, the trade that brought Ichiro Suzuki to the Yankees seems a little bit odd. The Yankees hadn’t really been having outfield problems, save for the injury to Brett Gardner, and Ichiro was hardly what you would have called a productive player over the past two seasons in Seattle. The subsequent injury to Alex Rodriguez made a lot of that beside the point by requiring Eric Chavez to play third base more regularly and opening a spot in the lineup, but if not for an errant pitch from Felix Hernandez, the Yankees could have been looking at a bottleneck of aging left-handed hitters in the corners.

Instead, Ichiro has managed to make himself not merely a warm bodied fill in for Gardner in left field, but a legitimately productive member of the Yankees’ lineup. It might not feel like it because, unlike most of his compatriots on the Bronx Bombers, Ichiro still doesn’t do much in the way of getting extra base hits or drawing a walk, but he’s hit a nice .296/.310/.454 since he joined the Yankees. That might not look like much, especially the on base percentage, but each of those numbers is better than Raul Ibanez‘s full season production, and of course Ichiro has been a huge upgrade over Ibanez in the outfield. And he’s been at his best in the month of August, hitting .312/.329/.468, which translates to an above average wRC+ of 106.

I don’t want to belabor the point and give the impression that he’s regained his All-Star form or anything, but I didn’t expect much, if anything, out of Ichiro as recently as a couple of weeks ago, so it’s worth calling attention to the fact that he’s actually been more than useful in his new role in pinstripes, and that Brian Cashman has once again found a way to upgrade his roster at the margins with a low cost acquisition of a veteran role player. Continue reading The surprisingly productive Ichiro

Ben Cherington Is A Man Amongst Boys

Sometimes it’s hard to praise the enemy, but what Ben Cherington did this weekend might live on to be one of the greatest trades in baseball history. In case you haven’t heard yet, the Red Sox GM found a team to trade Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto. Not only did he lose a huge chunk of future commitments, but he also received a few high upside prospects from the Dodgers. After an offseason where Cherington did little to improve his team, many fans viewed Theo Epstein’s replacement as too docile for a large market like Boston. Continue reading Ben Cherington Is A Man Amongst Boys

The Farm Report: 8/26/12

Empire State beat Lehigh Valley 6-2:
Ronnier Mustelier started the second with a double to right. Francisco Cervelli drew a walk and Kosuke Fukudome lined a single to right, plating Mustelier for the first run of the game. The IronPigs tied the game in the fourth and took the lead with a run in the fifth. Corban Joseph drew a walk to start the seventh and Mustelier singled to right. A single by Brandon Laird plated Joseph and Mustelier and the Yankees took a 3-2 lead. Empire State doubled their score in the top of the ninth. Mustelier worked a walk, but was out at second on a grounder by Cervelli. Laird singled and Melky Mesa lined a triple to center. Fukudome followed with a double, plating Mesa for the 6-2 victory.

Mustelier went 2-4 with two runs scored, a double and a walk. Laird went 2-5 with a run scored and two RBIs. Fukudome went 2-4 with a double, a walk and two RBIs. Justin Thomas threw seven strong innings, allowing two runs on three hits, a walk and five Ks. Cory Wade pitched two innings and allowed one hit, striking out one.

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Yankees do the little things, beat Indians 4-2

The Yankees were not perfect Sunday afternoon in Cleveland, but they were good (lucky, whatever you want to call it) enough to escape Progressive Field with a 4-2 win, thanks to some timely hitting (of course), and adequate pitching. Freddy Garcia tossed four and two-thirds innings of four hit, two run ball–with six K’s!–but was yanked with one out left in the fifth inning down by one with runners on the corners, as Joe Girardi decided to turn the game over to the bullpen. Garcia probably deserved the win–and to try to pitch himself out of the jam–but Yankee fans should be happy with Girardi for moving aggressively to lock down the Indian threat: Carlos Santana had just singled in two runs with the bases loaded, and lefty Michael Brantley (of yesterday’s homer fame) was coming up.

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Yankees top Indians, 4-2, win series two games to one

The Yankees won a sleepy Sunday afternoon game, 4-2 over the Indians. The game was odd. The Yankees never trailed, effectively winning the game when they plated three runs in the second inning, but the team stranded a ton of base runners. Four runs on eleven hits is a poor outcome, especially since one of those hits was a solo bomb from Curtis Granderson. The Yankees didn’t play well, but the Indians played worse. We’ll take that. Freddy Garcia struggled, but was effective over a short start. He allowed two runs over 4.2 innings of work. Joe Girardi yanked Freddy Continue reading Yankees top Indians, 4-2, win series two games to one