Glass Houses and Stones

I was going to devote this morning to my excitement about heading to the Bronx tonight. I will be there at Luis Severino’s debut, and I can’t wait. But, some other news got in the way, and I feel compelled to say something about it. I will write about Severino tomorrow, but for now, bring on the PED’s!

David Ortiz said something last night that nobody can disagree with. When asked about Alex Rodriguez and his PED use, Ortiz said, “It is what it is. The guy is playing the game the right way now — as far as we know.”

At this point, you would have to be either an idiot, or completely naive to assume that A-Rod is doing what he is doing clean. He does not deserve the benefit of the doubt.But, that doesn’t make what Ortiz said very smart, in fact it is pretty dumb for him to go anywhere near that question because he is not an innocent bystander to the PED era.

It’s hard to remember now, but it was the news in Fenruary 2009 that A-Rod, along with 103 other players, failed the 2003 PED test that started all of the “fun” with Alex. When the news came out, Alex held a big press conference and admitted he did it, but claimed that it was for only the three years in Texas because of the pressure of living up to the contract. In July of that year, the news came out that one of the other 103 players was Ortiz. Ortiz issued a statement saying that he was surprised at finding out he tested positive and he would find out what he tested positive for and let the fans know. To my knowledge, that has never happened.

What you think from here probably depends on who you root for. Ortiz is beloved in Boston, and A-Rod has seen a redemption of sorts from the fans in New York. You just need to look at the reaction to Tom Brady inside of New England and outside of it to see how fans “root for the laundry”. Personally, I think A-Rod is a despicable person and a liar, but that doesn’t make Ortiz innocent. Ortiz’s claims that he has never failed a PED test since 2003 don’t sway me to his side either. Other than that 2003 test, I can’t think of a test that A-Rod failed. He was, from a testing standpoint, squeaky clean and his latest crimes only came to light because of Tony Bosch and a FBI investigation. Furthermore, the evidence uncovered during that investigation told us about things like steroid lozenges that you could use up to a certain point on game days and still pass a drug test after the game. Clearly. the cheaters have the advantage over the testing.

I hope A-Rod, Ortiz, and all the rest of the players aren’t cheating now, but I have no idea.  And if MLB ever wanted to really say they have cleaned up the game, the way to do it would be to store all samples taken for future testing- 5 or 10 years down the line. That way the science could potentially catch up with the cheating, and the players who were inclined to cheat might be dissuaded because there was the potential of their legacies being tarnished in the future.

That Was Quick

So I was thinking about the Ackley move over the weekend and I finally think I understood it. The Yankees were basically saying that while they know Ackley isn’t a great hitter, he is at least the hitter Garret Jones was. That, plus the ability to play defensively at multiple positions, made him an upgrade to the roster. It made sense, after all the Yankees had shown that they wouldn’t pinch-hit for Chris Young late in games when he faced a righty pitcher because they didn’t want to put Jones or Beltran in right. (And this was despite Young putting up a .558 OPS against RHP.)

Now Ackley is headed to the DL and the Yankees are back to where they were before minus their backup for Mark Teixeira. I would suspect this means we will see Heathcott get the callup tomorrow since Young is clearly playing tonight against the LHP (1.122 OPS against them). And I also suspect that if they needed to replace Teixeira due to a DL situation, we would see Greg Bird make his debut. But I am getting ahead of myself. Game 1 with the Red Sox is tonight, back tomorrow with some thoughts on the big debut.

2015 Trade Deadline Blog

Check back here throughout the day for updates on your favorite Yankees and Red Sox player trades.

4:08pm- Looks like that may be it. I will recap any additional moves later.

4:02pm- Cubs get Tommy Hunter according to Ken Rosenthal.

4:01pm- Jack Curry reports the Yankees did nothing.

4:00pm- We have reached the deadline, but trade reports can still come in.

3:58pm- Bob Nightengale is reporting that both the Red Sox and Yankees are standing pat.

3:56pm- Sherman tweets that unless something changes in next five minutes, the Yankees are not making a move.

3:55pm- Five minutes…..

3:52pm- Ken Rosenthal confirms the Cespedes move.

3:51pm- Jason Stark reporting Mets have traded for Cespedes.

3:49pm- Astros are apparently out on Kimbrel.

3:48pm- Looking back at last year’s trade deadline blog, the last trade report came at 4:11pm.

3:45pm- Bruce and Chapman are with the Reds, though Bruce is reportedly getting a day off.

3:44pm- Blue Jays tweet they have traded Felix Doubront to the A’s for cash.

3:40pm- 20 minutes to go….

3:38pm- Sherman reminds everyone that Cespedes cannot be offered arbitration, so if the Tigers want something for him in case he signs elsewhere they need to trade him today.

3:31pm- Rosenthal, Heyman, and Sherman are all reporting the Yankees offered Mateo to the Padres in a Kimbrel trade, but haven’t heard back.

2:52pm- John Farrell has apparently told WEEI in Boston he doesn’t anticipate any big moves from Boston.

2:47pm- In an addition by subtraction move, the Yankees have announced that they received cash from a Korean League team for Emil Rogers.

2:36pm- Blue Jays are adding Ben Revere according to multiple reports. This is on top of a trade for Mark Lowe earlier today.

2:20pm- Jon Heyman reports the Mets are making a push for Cespedes.

2:17pm- In addition, Chris Capuano has cleared waivers and been outrighted to AAA.

2:15pm- The Yankees announce they have DFA’ed Garett Jones in order to put Ackley on the roster.

1:55pm- Good point by Rosenthal on MLB Network- teams need to review medical records before 4pm today, they can’t review them afterwards, so teams are probably reviewing multiple medicals right now.

1:54pm- Jon Heyman on MLB Network reports that Yankees are not in on Chapman.

1:52pm- Joel Sherman reporting the Padres are working on something big for Kimbrel, but not with the Yankees. Padres won’t trade him to Yankees without Mateo in the deal. <Peter says- Mateo would be a deal-breaker for me in that discussion. No reason to take on all of that money and give up a big contract.>

12:08pm- Arizona is apparently out on Aroldis Chapman

12:05pm- Jerry Crasnick tweets that Broxton is headed to St. Louis.

11:38 am – The Yankees are in on several bullpen arms including Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

11:31 am – ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick and Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal are reporting the Red Sox and Padres are having discussions about Tyson Ross and perhaps Craig Kimbrel.

11:31 am – ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting the Red Sox are kicking the tires on Cleveland’s Carlos “Don’t Call me Hector” Carrasco.

 

Look Over There!

Here is my Yankee trade deadline day prediction, bet on a surprise. Brian Cashman has shown us time and again that we should ignore the rumors and just sit back and wait for events to unfold. Year after year, the names associated with the Yankees end up elsewhere and someone you did not expect at all ends up on the team.

So take a deep breath when you hear Craig Kimbrel is headed to the Bronx and wait. History says that isn’t happening.

I will start a live blog this afternoon around 2pm with rumors, trades and other tidbits. I hope to “see” you there.

Toronto Gets Price, We Get Ackley!-UPDATED

Ok, I tried to pump you up for this move, but I see I failed. The truth is, I don’t get it either. Let’s examine the good aspects of this deal.

1- Ackley is only 27

2- He is a lefty hitter

3- The price is right, Flores and Ramirez, a lefty-hitting outfielder, and a righty reliever, are commodities the Yankees have a lot of.

But here’s the problem, he isn’t very good.

Now, he was a decent second baseman with the glove until Robinson Cano replaced him there, but he is a career .243/.306/.366 hitter. And while he did play half his games in Safeco, his career road OPS is only .023 higher than his home OPS. (It is worth noting that he has a career .296/.387/.481 line at Yankee Stadium, but that is in a total of 63 PA’s. )  And if he can’t play second anymore, which some scouts suggest, what exactly is his role on this team?

To me there are three possible answers to why this trade was made.

1- The price was low enough (totally agree) that the Yankees decided to gamble on those Yankee Stadium numbers and see what happens. If it works, he is a controllable asset for the next two-plus years. If not, they can non-tender him.

2- This deal is a placeholder for something else. Perhaps Refsnyder is on the move.

3- As bad as Ackley has been, the Yankees feel he is an upgrade over Garrett Jones or Steven Drew. That’s a pretty low bar to set, but you would have to ask why the Yankees would waste any assets trying to improve on Drew when Refsnyder is in the minors and they have guys like Heathcott and Williams who could easily replace Jones.

I don’t know, but I would suspect something else to happen in the next 23 hours before the trading deadline.

UPDATE 8PM- Ackley is joining the team in Chicago tomorrow, so with the trade deadline, the roster situation should be a lot clearer.

Another Roster Move

After last night’s amazing game, the Yankees have DFA’ed Chris Capuano. Before we get to that, let’s talk about that game for a minute. Specifically, how crazy are the save rules that Adam Warren could enter a 19-5 game and earn a save because he pitched three innings? Hey he was great, Moreno was even better. In fact, the two of them pitched 8-1/3 innings of almost-perfect baseball. (One walk was the only blemish) The first ten Texas hitters went 3-for-5 with 5 walks. The final 26 went 0-25 with 1 walk. That’s an amazing reversal.

And now Capuano is gone. He was a signing I was not a fan of in December, and he really didn’t have a role on this club. He wasn’t good enough to be a spot-starter and Joe Girardi had really stopped using him entirely. Over the last month, he had a grand total of 4-1/3 innings pitched.

So good to see the Yankees cut their losses and good to see them add another young(er) arm to the bullpen, at least temporarily. Caleb Cotham was their fifth-round pick back in 2009, a draft that will now have produced six major-league players. (Better late than never as they say.) He has battled injuries and was moved to the bullpen finally this season. From there, he has taken off, dominating AA and AAA, and now he is here.

How long he stays is nothing more than a guess. The Yankees seem to have a plan to make the back-end of the bullpen a fluid thing. So, if they use a bunch of bullpen arms tonight, expect him to get shipped out and someone to take his place. The Yankees have a bunch of decent arms in Scranton, might as well give them a shot.

History Repeating

The confluence of another bad CC Sabathia start on Saturday with David Cone doing the postgame from the studio reminded me that we are seeing a familiar script unfold. It was fifteen years ago that Yankees’ fans saw Cone simply lose his effectiveness and their manager dig in his heels and insist on pitching him over and over again. Does that sound familiar?

In fairness, 2000 may have been worse than now. Cone was worse in 2000 than Sabathia has been in 2015, and his contract was up at the end of the season. (Not that contract status is a reason for loyalty, but Torre knew he wasn’t going to have Cone on the team in 2001. Girardi doesn’t have that luxury.) Cone put up a 6.91 ERA, yet made 29 starts! The Yankees signed Dwight Gooden in the middle of the season and traded for Danny Neagle, yet Cone kept pitching!  (Ah to have had a blog in 2000)

It wasn’t until the playoffs that Joe Torre finally saw the light. Cone worked exclusively out of the bullpen, and really worked is the wrong word. He didn’t appear in the Division Series and his sole appearance in the ALCS was one inning of mop-up duty. He got one batter in the World Series, but that was memorable. With the Yankees leading the series 2-1 and the game 3-2, Cone came in for the final out of the fifth and retired Mike Piazza. It was a deft bit of management by Torre, trusting a guy who had done so much for him in the past in a big spot.

In the next few days we will know how well this parallel between Cone and Sabathia will hold up. If the Yankees acquire a starter, who goes to the bullpen? We know what the answer should be, but with history and loyalty against us, we might be in for a nasty surprise.

Pedro Martinez

Pedro Martinez is set to be enshrined today in Baseball’s Hall of Fame.  As you know, I’m not a man of words…good words anyway.  That said, watching Pedro pitch was must see viewing.  There have been better pitchers than Pedro in terms of higher cumulative stats but I would argue, there hasn’t been a better pitcher over a 7 year period than Pedro was from 1997 – 2003.  Sandy Koufax comes to mind but his prime was over 5 years.  Both Koufax and Pedro were similar in that they had relatively short careers for Hall of Famers and whose prime years were other worldly.

Consider this, from 1997-2003, Pedro’s stat line was:

W-L 118-36, 1408 IP, 1009 H, 315 BB, 1761 K’s, 2.20 ERA, .940 WHIP, 213 ERA+.

All of this pitching during the steroid era.  Pedro has been quite vocal on his anti-steroid stance and I fully acknowledge that this alone doesn’t mean he didn’t do steroids himself.  But even if he did do steroids (which I don’t think he did, call me biased or naive, fine) he still did things no other pitcher did during or outside of the steroid era.

I isolated Sandy Koufax’s prime years of 1962-1966 and came up with this:

W-L 111-34, 1377 IP, 959 H, 316 BB, 1444 K’s, 1.95 ERA, .926 WHIP, 167 ERA+.

Koufax’s prime came over 5 years and of course he pitched in a time where 300 IP a season was normal.

I’ve looked and admit, probably not thoroughly enough, I haven’t found another modern day pitcher who’s prime was as dominating in all aspects as Pedro and Koufax’s.  ERA, control, strikeouts, ERA+.  Every element of their games was perfect.  I give the nod to Pedro because he pitched in a hitters era and did so over a longer period of time.

As a Red Sox fan, I realized early on that I was watching a player whose performance would probably never be duplicated again by a Red Sox player.  I didn’t have to force myself to watch Pedro’s starts, I had to watch them, I demanded to watch them.  Start after start of mowing the opposition down, Pedro allowing 3 ER was a bit of a shock, if just didn’t happen that much.

His best game were both against the Yankees.  His 17 strikeout, 1-hit win and his head to head match-up game against Rogers Clemens which was won by a late Trot Nixon home run.  Epic baseball.

Congratulations to Pedro Martinez and thank you for making watching baseball such a joy.

Showcasing?

There is a report that on the interweb that Luis Severino could be called up next week. That report, plus today’s roster move make me wonder if the Yankees are trying to showcase some players as potential trade chips. Let me explain.

Today the Yankees purchased the contract of Nick Goody from Scranton. It’s a strange move because it required the Yankees to add him to the 40-man roster, at the expense of Gregorio Petit, and he has a grand total of six innings above AA ball. Now those innings have been very good, as have his overall numbers, but why make this move? If the Yankees simply wanted an extra bullpen arm, they could have recalled Rumbelow from Scranton. He is already on the 40-man roster. But they decided to add Goody and give him a shot which makes me think they want to see what he can do and let other teams see him as well.

If I am right, that might also explain Refsnyder’s brief audition and the potential callup of Severino. Get these guys into the big leagues and let other teams get a look at them. It’s not a bad plan, but it will cause some 40-man headaches in the future if they don’t trade some of them.

Phil Hughes

The Yankees face former-prospect Phil Hughes tonight in Minnesota and that got me to thinking about eight years ago and the summer of 2007.

Back then we liked our mortgages big and undocumented, our investment banks as investment banks only, and we were positive that it would be Hillary Clinton versus Rudy Giuliani facing off to become the President in 2008. A-Rod had not been discovered as a cheater and he hadn’t even opted-out of his original contract. Were we ever truly that young?

For Yankee fans that will also be the summer of the three great prospects. The first was Hughes who came up in April, got roughed up a bit, and then was in the middle of a no-hitter when he got hurt. He returned in August, just as the Yankees brought their second big pitching prospect, Joba Chamberlain, to the big league bullpen. In September, we got to see the third guy, Ian Kennedy, join the other two and our dreams went into overdrive. Here were three incredibly young (Kennedy was the oldest at 22) guys who looked like they would make up the top of the rotation for years to come. In fact, if I had bet you that the trio would finish their Yankees’ careers healthy, but with only 80 wins combined, you would have laughed me out of the room.

Yet, that is exactly what happened. For various reasons, none of them came close to being what the Yankees thought they would. In fact, they were all generally disappointments. Hughes came closest to fulfilling his potential leading the trio with 56 wins as a Yankee, but that took seven seasons of very inconsistent results.

I thought about this and I write about it because it is a memory worth keeping this upcoming week. We hear the names, Judge, Severino, Bird, Refsnyder, and we expect to see four superstars in the next few years. That is foolish, it simply won’t happen. If two of those guys become regular and productive big-leaguers, the Yankees will be ahead of the curve. I am not advocating giving up any of those guys in trades, but the Yankees have a legitimate chance to win this year and if increasing those odds requires some prospects to be sacrificed to get increase those chances, the Yankees should do it. As the saying goes, flags fly forever.