Quick Hit: A-Rod To The DL With A Hammy Strain

Well this isn't going to help the offense break out anytime soon.  The Yankees announced earlier that they are placing Alex Rodriguez on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring.  The team also announced that they called up lefty reliever James Pazos to take A-Rod's spot on the roster.  This is a double blow for A-Rod and the Yankees because he had been coming around with the bat after a painfully slow start.  Coming into last night's game, Alex had hit 3 home runs, 3 doubles, and driven in 7 runs in his previous 5 games.  Without his hot bat in the middle of the lineup, the near lifeless offense will have a major void to fill. As for Pazos, I highly doubt he'll be in contention to pick up A-Rod's lost DH at-bats.  The decision to call him up rather than a position player indicates the Yankees are going to give more regular playing time to Aaron Hicks and Dustin Ackley and rotate guys through the DH spot as needed.  Honestly, that's probably a better plan than calling up Swisher or Refsnyder, and it's not like the Yankee 'pen has been as stellar lately as they were in the early weeks of the season.

Worst of all, the Yankees become a lot more boring with A-Rod out of action.  He remained one of the few reasons to tune in and watch this team and now they really need a spark to pull them out of this extended malaise.  Here's hoping guys like Teix and Beltran and Gardner can step up and lead a rally while A-Rod recovers.

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Quick Hit: Opening Day Postponed (UPDATED)

Well that blows.  But I guess it wouldn't have been much of a game trying to play through wind and rain and snow all day and night.  The forecast for tomorrow looks much better and that's why they schedule Opening Day like this.  We'll pass on more details on tomorrow's schedule as the Yankees release them.  Looks like I'm updating my PTO request at work.

** UPDATE 8:04 AM **- Tomorrow's makeup game will also be an afternoon game; first pitch scheduled for 1:05 PM local time.  Chad Jennings has all the details on tomorrow's game.

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UPDATING: Andrew Miller Suffers Bruised Right Wrist After Taking Liner In Today's Game

Well that's not good.

After dodging a bullet on Jacoby Ellsbury's recent HBP on the wrist, the Yankees will have to hold their breath again on this one.  Andrew Miller, in this afternoon's game in relief of Ivan Nova, took a line drive off his right wrist and immediately left the field.  Jared Diamond's description of what happened doesn't make it sound good, and the Yankees can ill afford to lose another one of their big 3 late-game relievers now that they're already without Aroldis Chapman for the first 30 games.  The only silver lining here is that at least it wasn't his left wrist.

More on this story as it develops...

** UPDATE 2:35 PM **- Via Wally Matthews, Cash called the injury a "bruised right wrist" for now and said Miller has been sent back to Tampa for X-rays and a CT scan.

** UPDATE 2:47 PM **- Not that this situation needs to get any worse, but apparently Bryan Mitchell also hurt himself in this game.  According to Bryan Hoch it's a sprained left big toe and he'll have an MRI on it tonight.

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Yankees Acquire Starlin Castro From The Cubs For Adam Warren And Brendan Ryan

Joel Sherman has it:

No word yet on who else is involved, but that sounds like it's coming shortly.  This rumor has really picked up steam over the last hour or so, and with the Cubs just signing Ben Zobrist this was the next domino to fall.  More on this story as it's reported.

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BREAKING: CC Sabathia Leaves Start With Right Knee Injury (UPDATED)

CC Sabathia has exited his start this afternoon after apparently injuring himself on a pitch in the top of the 3rd inning.  He struck out the batter on a fastball with the pitch and looked uncomfortable as he completed his delivery and came off the mound.  Joe and the trainer came out to check on him immediately and he left the game with little discussion. It was hard to tell what the injury was watching replays of the pitch.  Sabathia didn't appear to land funny on his bad right knee and he didn't grab at anything or strain his body in any way.  Whatever it was, it had to be pretty serious, as CC has pitched through knee and hamstring injuries before.  As poorly as he's pitched this year, he has been better lately working on extra rest and the Yankee rotation is already a man down without Pineda.  Further injuries to the rotation do not help, even if they happen to the weakest link of that rotation.

More on this story as it develops...

** UPDATE 1:45 PM- Via Andrew Marchand, Sabathia left the game with pain in his right knee and is being taken for an MRI.  That knee has been a problem for a long time and it's already been drained twice this season, so this is obviously not good news. **

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*UPDATED* BREAKING: Josh Rogers (Yankees 11th round pick) agrees to terms

Josh RogersAccording to a source close to the Yankees, 11th round pick Josh Rogers (Twitter) has agreed to terms with the New York Yankees for $485K, plus additional scholarship money. Rogers is scheduled to take a physical early this coming week (Monday or Tuesday). This figure represents the highest amount the team can offer Rogers, and is well above-slot for an 11th rounder. The issue is that James Kaprielian, who was selected 16th in the first round, remains unsigned. Kaprielian is represented by Scott Boras, who is known to demand above-slot figures for his players. However, given the figure signed by Rogers, the Yanks must feel confident in their ability to sign Kaprielian for at/near slot figures (~$2.5M).

The signing deadline is this coming Friday, July 18th.

Baseball America described Rogers:

At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Rogers has a near ideal pitcher’s build. He locates his 87-91 mph fastball, mixes in a slider that flashes average at his best and below-average at other times and a usable changeup. Rogers’ mix of three pitches and an ability to locate them makes him a potential back-end starter.

h/t to Jim Callis for the slot figures.

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Quick Hit: Yanks Trade David Carpenter To The Nats

I guess the Nationals are the new dumping ground for relievers the Yankees don't want anymore.  As just announced by the team, they have traded Carpenter, who was DFA'd last week, to the Nats for Double-A second baseman Tony Renda.

Carpenter was bad in his short Yankee stint, no other way to say it.  4.82/.5.31/4.72 trip slash in 18.2 innings over 22 appearances.  The Nats have some holes in their bullpen right now as well, and they have plenty of experience Carpenter from his time in the NL East.  They must think they can fix whatever's wrong with him.

Renda is a 24-year-old, righty hitter and thrower, and was Washington's 2nd round pick in the 2012 draft.  He's hitting .267/.333/.340 in Double-A this year and is a career .288/.366/.365 hitter in over 1,600 MiL plate appearances spread across 4 levels.

The Yanks had no use for Carpenter anymore, so I guess it's good that they were able to get something for him.  I don't expect much from Renda as far as future Major League potential, but I also admittedly don't know much about him.  This move puts a period at the end of the David Carpenter Era in pinstripes.

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Why I'm Only Pretty Sure I'm Ticked They Let Moncada Go

Wow, my timing remains great: I write an ode to Frankie Cervelli one day before he's unexpectedly traded, then a brief supporting a Moncada signing one day before he becomes a Red Sock. Feel free to hit me up for stock or pony tips, because I'm clearly clairvoyant. Anyhow, I'm ticked they didn't get him, but it's very possible I'm wrong: (1) To start with, he seems worth it even if you're not a cockeyed optimist. Even if he's not at the level of a #1-2 overall draftee, and instead is only the 8th-15th best draftee, that's good for an expected 11.5 WAR in his six team-controlled years, and $60m is well-below-market for that. And if he's really a #1-2, his expected production is then easily double his pricetag, given that (as the same linked article shows) you can expect 24-28 WAR in the first six years of a #1-2 overall draftee.

(2) But the Yankees and all other teams declined to bid $70-80m after seeing him repeatedly, and we non-insiders saw him zero times. If he's at the level of a lower first-round draftee (#15-30), his expected six-year production is only 6.5 WAR, which might be worth $60m to the Yankees, but it's a close call. And it wouldn't take major, major holes in his game to make him a lower rather than higher first-rounder. Reports started saying he's more 2B than SS, which alone is a big difference. And we don't know what else they saw: maybe he's got a mildly slow first step in the infield, or maybe he's kind of a punk without the makeup to yield confidence he'll reach his potential. We don't really know -- but that's the point.

(3) Yet the early word-on-the-street tweet-reporting doesn't give me tons of confidence it's explanation #2 (that after a rational evaluation they decided he's a high but not elite talent) rather than #1 (that they blew it):

Marchand: Yanks feeling was they can buy a proven MLBer for $60M or $70M

Hoch: Cashman said there is no debate about Moncada's talent and ceiling, but bidding went farther than Yankees were willing to go.

Matthews: To be clear, it's obvious Cashman wanted Moncada but it seems like he couldn't get Hal to go any higher

I want to believe it's not "proven MLBer" (my post yesterday noted that $80-100m does not get you an MLBer better anywhere near as productive as a top draftee), nor an empty "farther than...willing" declaration. Frankly, they sound like the Royals explaining why they couldn't match $75m for James Shields but could spend $58m on the mediocrity grab-bag of Alex Rios, Edinson Volquez, Kendrys Morales, and Luke Hochevar. So I want to believe, but as with a lot of things in life, what I'm seeing all around me doesn't make it easy to believe what I want to believe.

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2015 Hall-of-Fame Quick Take: Half-Empty, Half-Full; the Hall of Screwed; & Ridiculously Predicting the Next Three Years

(1) The Hall is Half-Empty. I suppose last year's voting was sillier; not only did a majority of voters think Jack Morris deserves the Hall, but over three times as many thought so than voted for Mike Mussina or Curt Schilling. The similar nonsense this year is over three times as many thinking John Smoltz deserving as thinking Mussina was, given that Mussina was far more clearly Hall-worthy, whether your metric is wins (even if Smoltz remained a starter in his four years as a reliever, he wouldn't have Mussina's 270 wins), career WAR (Mussina's 82.7 is well above Hall-caliber and nearly 25% better than Smoltz's kinda-Hall-caliber 66.5), or elite years (Mussina had a league-wide top-5 WAR seven times, including a #1; Smoltz had three, with no #1s). Two Smoltzy thought experiments: (1) If Smoltz pitched instead for the Royals or Twins, and lacked the World Series aura and the Maddux/Glavine reflected glow, is there a shot in hell he'd be a first-ballot winner, or wouldn't he be a weaker Bert Blyleven case, earning election only after many years of languishing and hand-wringing? (2) Lots of Smoltz voters stressed that he had 200 wins and 150 saves, as if his four years of being too brittle for starting pitching added rather than subtracted value, and as if any solid starter couldn't rack up 150 saves in four years – so, shouldn't C.C. Sabathia ask to finish out his contract as the Yankees' closer, in the hopes of supplementing his 200 wins with the 150 saves that apparently combine to make you a Hall of Famer?

Yet with 12-16 strong candidates (depending on your steroid views and some borderliners), the very worst of the ballots this year were those saying yes to only 3-6 candidates: Marty Noble's three included none of the dozen-ish holdovers, only the three new folks (Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz) – with a repetition of Noble's 100% unsupported suspicion that Craig Biggio juiced too; Juan Vene's six included Lee Smith, Carlos Delgado, and Fred McGriff; and there were more like both of those – an only-the-elite 3, or a 5-7 with wasted spots.

(2) The Hall is Half-Full. But the backlog is getting winnowed, and the next few years' ballots are roomier. After the disastrous nobody-elected 2013, we've seen 7 elected in two years – the most since 1954-55, with 2015 the first class of four in 60 years. Next year's first-year class is the weakest in years: Ken Griffey is not only a lock, but also the only one likely cracking 50%; Jim Edmonds deserves some consideration but will be lucky to reach 20%; Trevor Hoffman may get solid support too, but that's about it. The class after that is similarly weak: Ivan Rodriguez should be a lock but lacks the overwhelming numbers to be a "first-ballot" electee, and voters don't grade on a curve like they should for catchers, who simply can't rack up 15+ elite years (even Gary Carter took six years, spending his first three in the 30-40%s); Vladimir Guerrero is borderline; and Manny Ramirez seems destined for the 'roider-exclusion fate of Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmiero, and Sammy Sosa. So, for the next two years, voters recognizing the clear worthiness of those mired in the backlog won't run out of room; they can vote for everyone they think deserving – or nearly everyone, if they include the entire 'roid gang.

(3) The Hall of Screwed: Mussina, Raines, Trammell. So who's gotten most screwed by the mix of backlog and stupid? You could say it's guys just missing, like Mike Piazza at 69.9% – but he'll be fine; guys around 70% always end up elected, like how Biggio rose 8% a year (64.2% to 74.8% to 82.7%). Or you could say it's arguably worthy guys stuck in the 10s, like Larry Walker (11.8), Gary Sheffield (11.7), and Mark McGwire (10.0) – but with that little support, it's hard to blame the backlog or the stupid caucus of Marty Noble & co.; there's just a broad consensus that they don't make the cut. So my three-most-screwed list includes two former Yankees – undercutting the idea that Yankees get overrated.

-- Tim Raines (55.0%) got about the same as Bagwell (55.7), and a majority is enough to give solid odds of eventual election – but next year is Bagwell's 6th of 10 eligibility years, while it's Raines's 9th. To reach 75%, Raines needs to outpace Biggio's +8%/yr support growth; it may happen, but he'll need an immediate and heavy groundswell in both of the next two years. Run-On-Sentence Raines Case: If there's a dime's difference between Tony Gwynn (68.8 WAR, 41.1 in his 7-year peak), it's Raines's dime (69.1/42.2); even focusing on Gwynn’s 3000 hits, Raines’s 3935 times on base – hits plus walks – narrowly edge Gwynn’s (3931), and in addition to times on base, Raines wins on extra-base factors, most notably HR (170 to 135) and SB (808 to 319, with a stellar 85% success rate) – so I see zero case for Gwynn to get 98% while Raines languishes with barely half that.

-- Mussina (24.6%) is in only year two, but barely rose (from 20.3%), so even as the backlog abates, he's behind a lot of folks in line: Piazza, Bagwell, and Raines, who are far ahead of him; Edgar Martinez, who's also a tad ahead; Schilling, who's very similar but with a higher peak and amazingly strong postseason record; and the All-Time Roiders (Bonds and Clemens), who seem destined for worst-case scenario limbo – never getting in, but soaking up a sizeable number of scarce voting spots. I'm still hopeful that Mussina has enough years for rising support growth to get him there. Fitting for a guy who earned a Stanford economics degree in 3 and a third years, Mussina likely emerges as the sabrmetric cause celebre that Bert Blyleven was – especially as less-informed voters get replaced by on-average more-informed newer voters. Before Mussina's ten years end, for example, the BBWAA electorate will come to include Jay Jaffe, Ben Lindbergh, Christina Kahrl, Rob Neyer, Keith Law, and others likely to vote for Mussina at a nearly 100% clip. The Mussina Case in 4 Words, Sort Of: See my long post.

-- Alan Trammell (25.1%) is just totally screwed. He suffers Mussina's lack of support, but on the other hand, he suffers Raines's lack of time. He rose from last year's 20.1%, but the clock has run down. Next year is his last, so literally two-thirds of his "no" voters would have to change their minds in one year, and I don't think anything like that massive, immediate turnaround ever has happened. Very Short Trammel Case: what Gwynn is to the very slightly superior Raines, Barry Larkin (70.2 WAR, 43.1 in 7-year peak) is to the very slightly superior Trammell (70.4/44.6) – yet Trammell somehow keeps getting only a quarter of Larkin's vote.

(4) Ridiculously Predicting the Next Few Years. As I tell my law students when they ask me to predict upcoming Supreme Court decisions, predictions never end well: if you're wrong you look stupid; if you're right, big deal, everything that happens looks obvious in retrospect. So, here goes: (a) Griffey and Piazza in January 2016; (b) Raines and Bagwell in January 2017 (the weak ballot should let them enjoy two years of major growth in their support); (c) Schilling in either 2017 or 2018, because he needs to gain lots, but he is gaining, and after this year he'll be the best starter on the ballot for the next three years; (d) Mussina may be the only other holdover whose support grows enough to help him make it eventually. This makes me sad for E.Martinez, Trammell, and Walker, and will make others sad for Sheffield and McGwire. But if the next few years go as I think/hope, we'll be out of this morass of 16 plausibly deserving guys cannibalizing each other's votes. Or on a more positive note: most of the deserving folks we're hand-wringing about will, ultimately, get the honor they deserve.

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