Tuesday Morning News And Notes: 4/26/16

There were a lot of little stories coming out yesterday, zero of which we touched on here.  Let's catch up on them in a little rapid fire notes blog. - A-Rod's MRI on his oblique came back negative, so the Yankees elected to not make a roster move for either him or Aaron Hicks.  They played last night with a 23-man roster.  I'm actually a little surprised they haven't just put Hicks on the DL retroactive to the date he got hurt and called somebody up, but it sounds like A-Rod might be available again soon.  He did take BP yesterday.

- I don't remember where I saw it, but apparently Hicks played catch yesterday before the game.  He hadn't been doing much of anything before then, so I guess the advancement to "baseball activities" is a good thing.

- Branden Pinder has decided to have Tommy John Surgery to repair his UCL tear.  He'll be out for the next 12-14 months, which is a major bummer for him and the SWB Shuttle.

- With Pinder and Rumbelow out and Jacob Lindgren going back on the DL with an elbow injury in High-A, the Yankees made a move to bring back lefty reliever Phil Coke.  He had been pitching in the Independent Atlantic League and was mostly bad last year at multiple levels for multiple teams, but he is a former True Yankee and that's something that can't be measured.  Being left-handed is so awesome if you're a baseball player.

- The worst news of the day yesterday might have been the James Kaprielian elbow injury.  He was placed on the DL with "elbow inflammation" and there is no timetable for his return.  The Yankees confirmed that an MRI showed no structural damage in his elbow, so there is no surgery planned for him.  The plan is to treat Kaprielian "conservatively" with rest and throwing, so at the bare minimum we can stop dreaming of him making it to the big leagues this season.

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Sunday Morning News And Notes: 4/17/16

Sorry I wasn't around yesterday, gang.  Milwaukee Beer Week started yesterday and there were some festivities in which I had to participate after a long work week.  Let's catch up on what's been happening the last few days, shall we? - The Yankees have lost each of the first 2 games of this Seattle series, both very winnable games that the Mariners seemingly did everything in their power to give away.  The Yanks were done in by their ridiculous run of early-season RISPFail and the dreaded "1 bad inning" from their starters.  But hey, the bullpen still looks great, right??

- The RISPFail has been really, really bad.  The team is 3-46 with runners in scoring position over their last 5 games, and if I'm not mistaken I believe 2 of those 3 hits only advanced a runner to third and did not score him.  That makes it pretty easy to understand how the Yanks have gone 1-4 in those last 5 games and scored 10 total runs.

- Alex Rodriguez is 0 for his last 19 after taking an 0-5 with 3 Ks yesterday and is down to .103/.235/.207 on the year.  It looks to me like he's seeing the ball well enough, his swing is just a little slow.  It's way too early to start fretting about how bad he'll be for the rest of this year, but I have to think Joe will bump him down in the order today for Carlos Beltran.  You can't have your worst hitter batting third while your team is struggling to score runs.

- One good thing the Yankees are doing offensively right now is stealing bases.  They swiped 3 yesterday and come into today's series finale tied with the Astros for the MLB lead with 11.  Interestingly enough, Chase Headley is tied for the team lead with 3.  He didn't steal a single base last year.  Something something, you can't predict baseball.

- Also, the bullpen.  Holy crap it's been good.  Tops in MLB in fWAR (1.1), FIP (1.78), and K rate (33.1%).  Collectively they've faced 136 batters in 32.1 innings pitched and struck out 45 of them.  That's insane.  Dellin Betances has fanned 12 of the 21 guys he's faced so far, and Andrew Miller has K'd 9 of the 14 he's faced.  Admittedly this group is top-heavy, with Betances, Miller, Chasen Shreve, and Johnny Barbato doing the heavy lifting and combining for a 0.00 ERA, but the numbers aren't any less impressive.

- And how about Barbato?  Another scoreless appearance yesterday, giving him 5 on the young season in 6.0 IP.  He's struck out 9 to just 2 walks and given up only 2 hits.  His stuff continues to look plenty good to be effective at this level and he pitches with the aggressiveness that some of the Yankees' other Triple-A shuttle guys lacked last year.  No chance he should even be in consideration for a shuttle trip if he continues to pitch well.

- James Kaprielian made his second start of the MiL season yesterday.  He didn't allow an earned run in 7 innings, but it was his defensive error that led to 3 unearned runs.  He also only gave up 1 hit and struck out 4, so it doesn't look like his time in Tampa is going to be very long.

We'll have a game thread later this afternoon and I'll be back for the recap later tonight, I promise.  Let's see if the boys can't break out of this funk today and win one.

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Friday Morning News And Notes: 4/1/16

Grapefruit League 2016 is over and done with for the Yankees.  They'll be in Miami for the next 2 games before traveling back to New York on Sunday to prepare for Opening Day.  The news is coming fast and furious now as we draw closer to the deadline to set rosters.  Here's the latest: - There were 2 split-squad games yesterday and both of them were losses.  Michael Pineda got knocked around in his final spring tuneup start, giving up 4 home runs.  Actually both Yankee starters gave up 4 home runs in their respective outings yesterday.  Finishing on a high note.

- Joe announced during one of the games yesterday that both Austin Romine and Luis Cessa have made the Opening Day roster.  Romine has been the backup catching favorite for a few weeks now, but Cessa is a bit of a surprise just because he wasn't considered a big part of the competition when camp started.  I know I saw him as more of a Triple-A starting option with all the other righty relief depth available.  Congrats to them both.

- Joe also announced that Masahiro Tanaka will be the starting pitcher on Opening Day.  As if there was ever any real doubt.  Tanaka will be followed by Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, and Luis Severino in that order.

- Via Bryan Hoch, the 5th starter decision is still unmade.  Ivan Nova definitely made things more difficult with his 6 shutout innings the other day, but I still say the job is CC's to start the season.

- Anthony Swarzak and Cesar Puello were reassigned to MiL camp yesterday.  Kirby Yates is the last man standing in the bullpen competition.  Have to think that means he's the last man in barring another injury this weekend.

The Reds put Jake Cave on waivers yesterday, so he could be returned to the Yankees if nobody claims him.  They have already received Evan Rutckyj back from the Braves.

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Mid-Day News And Notes: 3/31/16

Sorry about the lack of updates this morning, gang.  Technical issues.  But we're back up and running now and there's a lot to catch up on.  Here we go in rapid fire succession. - The CT scan on Andrew Miller's right wrist revealed a chip fracture to a small bone.  Miller has already said he doesn't plan to miss time because of this, but he is going to meet with another specialist first.

- The news is not as good for Bryan Mitchell, who basically has a broken big toe in his left foot.  Via Jack Curry, he's expected to be out at least 3 months and he will also meet with a specialist to decide if surgery is necessary or not.  Such a terrible break for Mitchell.  He was looking like the next big piece of the bullpen.  Now another spot is up for grabs.

- The Yankees announced that Ronald Torreyes beat out Pete Kozma for the final bench spot yesterday.  Good for him and good for the decision makers for making the higher-upside decision.  Now let's see how Joe uses him and how often.

- The Yankees also triggered Carlos Corporan's opt-out clause yesterday by emailing the rest of MLB and letting them know that he was available, so Austin Romine is going to be the backup catcher on Opening Day.

- Haven't seen it officially announced by the team yet, but it sounds like Johnny Barbato is getting one of the open bullpen spots.  The team did just announce that he was the winner of this year's James P. Dawson Award as the best rookie in camp.

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Injury News And Notes: 3/14/16

The Yankees are off today after a sloppy game yesterday.  Guess daylight savings really got to them.  They're still dealing with a few minor injuries as they approach the halfway point of spring camp.  Here's the latest on those injuries: - Via Bryan Hoch, Brett Gardner participated in a simulated game yesterday morning, getting 9 at-bats and completing them without any physical issues.  The plan is for him to play in his first ST game either Tuesday or Wednesday and I imagine we'll get an update on exactly when he will make his debut soon.

- Also via Hoch, the Yankees scratched Dustin Ackley from the road trip lineup on Saturday morning because of a tight quad.  I haven't seen much follow-up on this, so I don't think it's a big deal.  Could just be the team being cautious like they were with Eovaldi's groin.

- Brian McCann took a ball off the kneecap in yesterday's game and was removed early.  Via Jack Curry, that was due to the knee stiffening up and the team wanted to play it safe.  When asked about it during the YES broadcast of the game, Joe said it was no big deal and that McCann would have stayed in if it was a regular season game.  Off-day ice should do him good.

Pete Kozma returned to game action late last week and he played on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, so he's back to full health.  Donovan Solano still hasn't returned from his back injury.  Kozma better start hitting if he wants a shot at stealing back the utility bench job from Refsnyder.

- Trainers were seen visiting with Luis Severino after his appearance on Saturday and Aroldis Chapman yesterday, but nothing has been reported regarding either of them.  Probably nothing more than usual ST treatment.

The team is mostly healthy right now and that's a good thing.  Gardner returning to the field this week would be a good sign that he'll be ready for Opening Day.

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Early Spring Injury Report: Gardner, Eovaldi, Shreve

The Yankees' 2016 spring opener is less than 2 days away and already there are some injury notes piling up.  Here's the latest: - Brett Gardner did 2 consecutive days of light hitting drills over the weekend and got some light work in today, so the team continues to take it slow with him.  Sounds like he's going to take live batting practice in the cage on Wednesday after the scheduled team off-day tomorrow.

- Nathan Eovaldi felt some "minor tightness" in his left groin during running drills late last week.  The team scrapped his planned live BP session over the weekend, but he's participated in some drills and is scheduled to throw a bullpen on Wednesday.  Sounds like this is nothing more than early spring precautions, but I'm sure the team will have a close eye on him during that bullpen sesh.

- Chasen Shreve took a line drive in the back throwing BP today, the second straight day that has happened after Ivan Nova took one off the leg on Sunday.  Shreve is OK, but that ended his session a little early.  Put a little ice on it and he should be fine.

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Quick Hit: Girardi Announces Early Spring Game Starters

The Yankees open their 2016 Spring Training game schedule in a few days, and now thanks to Erik Boland and Joe Girardi, we know who will start the first few games.  Luis Severino will get the ball first against the Tigers on Wednesday, Ivan Nova on Thursday against the Phillies, and Bryan Mitchell against the Tigers again on Friday. There's not much to be taken from the rotation order in the early part of the ST schedule, but there's excitement as a fan in seeing Severino's name as the first one to make a start in a 2016 game.  He's being looked at as a big piece of the rotation now and going forward and the Yankees aren't holding him back.  I'm sure he won't be out there long and his regular season workload will be carefully managed, but Severino is ready to pitch in games now and there's no reason for the Yankees to not start him if he's ready.

As for Nova and Mitchell, I guess we can consider this announcement the official start of the 6th starter competition.  Nova and Mitchell are both out of the Opening Day rotation picture as long as everybody stays healthy, but if that doesn't happen then the 6th starter spot is a more advantageous position to be in than the middle relief spot.  Nova and Mitchell each have their own things to prove after their tough finishes to 2015 and it looks like Joe and his staff are going to give themselves plenty of opportunities to evaluate both guys.

No word yet on who will start the games after Friday, but I'm sure that announcement will be coming soon.  I was anticipating seeing Michael Pineda out there in the mix early since he seemed further ahead than the rest of the projected OD rotation.  I bet he starts one of the weekend games.

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Spring Training News And Notes: 2/23/16

I'm having a slow mental start to this Tuesday.  Let's ease into things with some camp notes from yesterday. - The highlight of the day was Masahiro Tanaka's morning bullpen session.  He threw 31 pitches without issue and Larry Rothschild said Tanaka is "where we want him to be" at this point.  More from Roth- "So far there’s been no hitches or anything, so we’ll just keep progressing and hopefully it stays that way.”  No word yet on when Tanaka will face live batters. (quotes via Chad Jennings)

Aroldis Chapman was absent from yesterday's activity, excused for personal reasons.  There was some early buzz that it could have been because he was meeting with MLB in regards to the investigation of his domestic violence incident, but the Yankees confirmed that it was not that and that this absence was something they knew about ahead of time.

Aaron Judge was one of a few MiL guys taking hacks against live pitching yesterday morning and he continues to draw a lot of attention and press this spring.  Turns out his locker is located right next to Carlos Beltran's, and according to Brendan Kuty that was something that Beltran requested and arranged.  He's got a great reputation for mentoring young players in the clubhouse, so if this is his way of helping to prepare Judge for a late 2016-2017 torch passing, I'm all for it.

- The Yankees made the Chris Parmelee signing official.  As expected, it's a MiL deal with a ST invite.  Via Bryan Hoch, Cashman confirmed that the team is looking at Parmelee as Greg Bird's replacement at Triple-A.

- The pitchers who threw live BP yesterday included Nathan Eovaldi, Luis Severino, Bryan Mitchell, Johnny Barbato, and James Kaprielian.  They threw to Judge, Dustin Fowler, Tyler Wade, and Jorge Mateo.

- In addition to Tanaka, other notable pitchers to throw bullpens yesterday included Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, Jacob Lindgren, and Nick Rumbelow.

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Thoughts After The First Few Days Of Spring Camp

We're still a few days away from the first full-squad workout, but there's already plenty to talk about in Yankee camp this spring.  Pitchers and catchers have all arrived, press conferences have been held, arms are loosening, gloves are popping, and hills are being run.  The spring story cycle is only going to quicken once the rest of the team shows up on Wednesday, so here are my thoughts on the major stories from the first few days. - Joe held his big camp-opening presser last Thursday, and I couldn't help but notice the number of beat guys who commented on the "awkward" or "uncomfortable" nature of what he said regarding the Aroldis Chapman situation.  Maybe I've just gotten a little dull to the over-dramatic MSM spin, but did I miss something?  There was nothing there.  Joe deferred to MLB and the commissioner's investigation when asked about the suspension, acknowledged that it was a serious issue, and said he wanted to get to know Chapman better before judging him.  What's awkward about any of that?  What else was he supposed to say?  The new domestic violence policy is a big talking point this spring and for good reason, but do we really need to be injecting more drama into a manager's press conference answers to drive that point home?  Doesn't the seriousness of the subject matter already speak for itself?

- It's a small detail, but it was good to find out that Teix has been running with no issues since the beginning of the year.  I remember being a little bit worried when that timeline was first laid out, so having it confirmed that he's on target with his rehab and ready to start baseball activities this week is reassuring.  Teix is easily the most important position player on this team and most difficult to replace.

- Speaking of which, it sounds like it's only a matter of time before the Yankees announce they've signed Chris Parmelee, who dropped this on Instagram yesterday.  Parmelee is a lefty-hitting first baseman who has basically settled into a Quad-A depth role at this stage of his career.  He's a .245/.311/.396 hitter in just over 1,000 career MLB plate appearances, but he did hit .314/.386/.444 in Triple-A last year.  The Yankees need some insurance for Teix with Greg Bird on the shelf and Parmelee fits that role well.  I imagine he got a MiL deal with a ST invite, and hopefully there's no opt-out clause built into that.  I have to imagine Parmelee would welcome the chance to play regularly in Triple-A and be the next in line for a call up should the injury bug strike.

- Via Chad Jennings, we found out yesterday that Carlos Corporan does have an opt-out in his MiL deal and that's yet another interesting wrinkle to add to the Gary Sanchez situation.  The Yankees are likely to lose both Corporan and Austin Romine when spring camp ends, and that would leave them pretty thin at the upper levels of their system.  Knowing that, I think I could see the Yankees keeping one of the vets to open the season as McCann's backup and stashing Sanchez in Triple-A if he struggles in any way during ST games.  It would be a safe, smart play considering the depth hit they're likely to take, and I'm sure the front office would have no problem avoiding some service time accrual and pushing Sanchez's free agency back a year.

- All eyes and cell phone cameras were on Saturday's bullpen session, when big hosses Chapman, Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, and CC Sabathia all threw.  That's a lot of dude right there.  Chapman was understandably the highlight and he drew plenty of praise from the beat crew for the appearance and sound of his stuff.  Regardless of what you think about him as a person, he's going to be really fun to watch.

- Same goes for Betances, and I'm interested in seeing how Joe uses him this spring.  Remember last year when there was all the early hullabaloo about Betances' velocity and command and it took him a few weeks to get going in the regular season?  Betances said he felt like he didn't get to throw enough in the spring and that he likes to work more because he believes it helps his mechanics and command.  Coming into camp this year he's saying again that he wants to work on his fastball command, and I wonder if Joe will give him a little more time to do that over the next month and change.  Doesn't have to be in games necessarily, just let him throw a few more bullpens.  Betances has shown he can carry a big workload, so if he feels more comfortable and better prepared with more work, let him have it.

- I mentioned this on Twitter yesterday, but I was surprised to read so much talk about top pitching prospect James Kaprielian possibly making it to the Majors in 2016 as if that would be a positive for the organization.  Don't get me wrong, I think Kaprielian is going to be a stud and I think he'll make himself into a universal top 50 prospect with his performance this season.  And if he is that good, the Yankees should definitely not waste time keeping him in the lower levels.  But if he makes it all the way to the show this year, that probably means a bunch of guys ahead of him on the depth chart got hurt.  I'm talking multiple guys in the Triple-A and big league rotations, and that would certainly not be a good thing.  I'm all for considering Kap for a rotation break-in in 2017, but if he's pitching in the big leagues at any point this year, something has gone horribly wrong.

Report: Yanks Backed Out Of A 2-Year Deal With Tommy Hunter After Failed Physical

The Yankees not signing a single Major League free agent was the most popular storyline over the last few weeks leading up to pitchers and catchers reporting, and now we know a big reason why that happened.  Via Joel Sherman, the team had an agreement in place with righty reliever Tommy Hunter before something came up on his physical that the team didn't like and they backed away.  The deal was "believed to be" between $11.5-12 million for 2 years. Hunter recently signed with the Indians for 1 year and 2 mil, so clearly this had a significant impact on his market.  He had been a pretty good middle reliever for the Orioles for the better part of the last 3 seasons, but he's also had multiple offseason surgeries to repair core muscle injuries.  The most recent one was in early January, so chances are good Hunter isn't in "the best shape of his life" right now.  Had the deal gone through, Hunter presumably would have stepped into a primary middle relief role alongside Chasen Shreve to set up the big 3 at the end.

I'm not too broken up about this deal falling apart.  6 mil is a pretty penny to pay for a middle reliever that doesn't strike a lot of guys out, especially when you're not 100% sure he's 100% healthy.  The Yankees have a slew of righty relief options in camp this spring and I don't think it will be difficult to replace whatever Hunter would have provided.  Being so passive on the free agent front this offseason was incredibly frustrating as a fan and Hal and his bean counters are still cheap pricks, but passing on Hunter sounds like a smart business and baseball decision to me.

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