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New York Yankees

Should the Yankees trade for Cole Hamels?

Matt Gregory



Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Cole Hamels just pitched a very good game against the New York Yankees last Tuesday night. Several writers are opining that the Yankees may trade for Cole Hamels. There is some merit to the argument, but it does not seem like the smartest move.

Why would they trade for Hamels, the Texas Rangers starting pitcher? Well, the Yankees do have a need for another starting pitcher. Luis Severino is currently the only consistent Yankee starter. Jordan Montgomery has been out since May 2nd with a flexor strain in his pitching elbow and could miss up to two months. His replacements, Luis Cessa and Domingo Germán, have been a mixed bag.

Cessa is out until the beginning of June with an oblique injury and Germán has struggled as a starter since his sizzling six-inning, no-hit debut. Masahiro Tanaka and Sonny Gray have struggled, with Tanaka giving up too may home runs and Gray walking too many batters. CC Sabathia has been a bright spot with a 3.55 ERA, but his 4.53 FIP and struggles his last three starts may signal a regression to the mean is coming.

Still, that’s about as far as the fit goes. Hamels has pitched well this year, sporting a 3.38 ERA, and striking out more than a batter an inning. On the other hand, he has a 4.95 FIP, which has been increasing every year since 2015. His BB/9 has been climbing since being traded to Texas as well, which has led to three of his highest WHIP totals of his career. He also has struggled with the long ball as well, with a rate of 1.7 HR/9. Hamels’ fly ball rate has also been slowly increasing since being traded to the Rangers, while his ground ball rate has decreased in the same period. This is a pitcher out performing his peripherals and who has a profile that is already like two starters in the rotation.

Then there is the contract. Technically, this is Hamels’ last year under contract. He has a $20-million team option in 2019 or a vesting option worth $24 million. The vesting option is contingent on Hamels pitching 400 innings in 2017 and 2018 and not ending the 2018 season on the DL due to shoulder or elbow injuries; he would need to pitch 252 innings this year to reach that 400-inning plateau. This could be a one-and-a-half year rental for the Yankees if they pick up his option, but general manager Brian Cashman has worked hard to get the Yankees under the luxury tax. Acquiring Hamels would be opposite that goal, with a salary greater than $20 million.

The Yankees record (33-16) is right where it should be based on their Pythagorean W-L (31-18), which is to say this team is already pretty good as constructed. Even with Tanaka and Gray underperforming and the revolving door at the fifth starter, the Yankees are one of the best teams in the American League. Cole Hamels could help if he continues to out-perform his peripherals, which may be difficult in Yankee Stadium where his home run problems may be exacerbated.

Hamels might be the least-expensive option on the market, with rumblings that the Detroit Tigers could shop Michael Fulmer and the Tampa Bay Rays possibly dangling Chris Archer. Both would be controllable for multiple years and thus would require hefty packages of prospects to pry away. If the Yankees were to trade for Hamels, it cannot be an overpay situation. Alternatively, the Yankees could just call up one of their pitching prospects to avoid overpaying the Rangers.

What would the Yankees’ internal options be? Right now, there are three: Justus Sheffield, Chance Adams, and Josh Rogers. All are in Scranton Wilkes-Barre, with Sheffield just arriving recently after a stint on the disabled list. Adams is in his second run in Triple-A and it is not going as well as his first. He is continuing to walk close to four batters per nine innings and has developed a home run problem, despite not having one at previous levels.

Nov 4, 2017; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Justus Sheffield of the Scottsdale Scorpions during the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 4, 2017; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Justus Sheffield of the Scottsdale Scorpions during the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Sheffield has only pitched 12.1 innings in Triple-A, but they have been great, with a 1.46 ERA and 2.82 FIP. He is continuing to strike batters out but is also walking far too many.

Rogers is somewhat of a dark horse. He is in first stint at Triple-A and pitching very well. He is striking out batters, limiting walks and not giving up home runs. He is not a top-30 prospect in any rankings of the Yankees organization. He has progressed through the system quickly, though, as he was drafted in 2015 and has been promoted once in each of the past three seasons.

The conundrum continues: are two Triple-A pitchers who seem to have the same problems as two current Yankees starters really an upgrade? Is the unheralded Triple-A pitcher with a great stat line worth a shot? They would be over Germán and Cessa for sure. They would allow both to move to the bullpen where they have been more effective. They would also be cheaper than paying for Hamels, who really looks like he could crash at any moment.

They could merely stabilize the rotation until Montgomery returns, and if those prospects perform poorly, they can be sent back down. If they perform well? That is a problem the Yankees would much rather have than what they have currently.

Montgomery has always been a starter and has been effective, so bumping him to an Adam Warren role seems unlikely. If any of Sheffield, Adams or Rogers perform well they could be bumped to the bullpen to limit their innings and keep them fresh. Plus, once the playoffs begin, rotations shorten and there is no need for five starters.

Promoting from within seems like a far cheaper, both in terms of salary and prospect capital, and overall, a better option than trading for a starter who is greatly outperforming his peripherals.

Born and raised in New Jersey in a Yankee household, Matt works with computers by day but has always loved baseball. When he's not doing either of those things, he's probably thinking about Villanova basketball way too much. Follow him on Twitter @MattchewGregory.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. fuster

    June 1, 2018 at 3:51 am

    Cole is an if-all-else-fails option,

    1) Bumgarner
    2) Corbin
    3) promoting Sheffield or some other prospect

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New York Yankees

Series preview | The Rays pay another visit to Yankee Stadium

Matt Gregory



Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees continue an 11 game homestand Tuesday night with three games against the Tampa Bay Rays in the Bronx. It is the last time Tampa Bay will visit Yankees stadium.

The Yankees have struggled against the Rays this season, as they have split 12 games so far, going 6-6. The Rays most recently took two of three back in July at Tropicana field. The Yankees received some bad news Monday, with CC Sabathia going to the disabled list with a knee injury.

The Rays starters have not been set yet, as they tend to use openers, and they only have two starters in their “rotation.” One of those starters is Blake Snell, who is a probable starter for the rubber game on Thursday. Snell has taken the leap this year, making the American League All-Star team and a stellar 2.18 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 128 innings.

However, Snell has struggled against the Yankees to the tune of nine earned runs in 8 1/3 innings of work, he walked seven batters in those starts and given up four home runs, the most he has given up against any team. The other possibilities for those two other starts could be Ryne Stanek, Jake Faria, Sergio Romo or Yonny Chirinos.

The Yankees are on track to run out J.A. Happ, Masahiro Tanaka, and Lance Lynn. Happ has been solid thus far for the Yankees, sporting a 3.00 ERA with 0.75 WHIP since coming over from Toronto. He bounced against the Texas Rangers after a bout of Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease, going six innings and only giving up three earned runs.

That was exactly what the Yankees signed up for when they acquired him from Toronto on July 26th. Happ has been successful against the Rays, with a 2.53 ERA in two starts, though he walked seven batters in those two starts.

Masahiro Tanaka looks to bounce back on Wednesday from a rough start against the Rangers where he was tattooed for six runs in 5 innings of work, with three home runs surrendered. Tanaka looked like a different pitcher coming out of the All-Star break, giving up one earned run through 19 2/3 innings with 26 strikeouts and only one home run against him. The Rays could be a welcome sight, last time against the rays he pitched a complete game shutout with nine strikeouts and only four runners allowed.

The rubber game on Thursday should feature Lance Lynn. Lynn was another deadline acquisition for the Yankees in a trade with the Minnesota Twins for Tyler Austin. Through 16 2/3 innings, Lynn has given up one run and struck out 22 batters against four walks. Lynn has already surpassed his WAR total with the Twins in 3 games with the Yankees, as he has been worth .8 WAR since coming to New York.

He has taken Sonny Gray’s spot in the rotation and has not looked back. If Lynn can continue to provide steady 5-6 inning starts with limited damage, much less the performances he has provided thus far, then the Yankees will be in good shape.

The top performers for the Yankees offensively out of the All-Star break have been Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorius.
Stanton has hit five home runs in the last seven days and is slashing .313/.382/.750 in August, picking up the slack with Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge on the disabled list. Gregorius has hit well against the Rays, with a slash line of .318/.362/.614 and three home runs with 13 runs batted in.

The goal for the Yankees? Come out of the series healthy and hopefully with a series win as they try to right the ship against the Rays.

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New York Yankees

Mets 8 Yankees 5 | Severino falters again

Matt Gregory



Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Luis Severino struggled yet again and failed to reach the fifth inning for the first time this season as the Yankees lost to the Mets on Monday night. The Yankees were able to scrape three runs out against Jacob DeGrom but Severino gave back four runs on two home runs. DeGrom struck out 12 Yankees in 6 2/3 innings of work. The Yankees look to bounce back tomorrow night against the Tampa Bay Rays in the Bronx.

Turning Point

The sixth inning, when A.J. Cole gave up three home runs and allowed the Mets to stretch their lead to four runs. The Yankees had kept it close against DeGrom and would have had a shot if Cole had kept the deficit to just one run.

Three Takeaways

1. Severino struggled to get batters out with his four-seam fastball. Five of the seven hits came on four-seam fastballs with only three swinging strikes. He got 10 swinging strikes on his off-speed offerings. Whether he is tipping pitches or not, it seems like hitters are looking for his four-seamer and leaving his off-speed pitches alone, as he only got four called strikes between his change-up and slider.

2. A.J. Cole is having a rough August, he gave up three home runs in two innings and has given up six earned runs in only 7 innings this month. Two of the home runs came against lefties in the Mets lineup, which is the norm for Cole, as lefties are slashing .338/.421/.708 this season. He came into the game down one run and left the Yankees trailing by four runs in the seventh inning.

3. Gleyber Torres’ bat has gone dead in August, to the tune of .146 batting average with six hits and thirteen strikeouts in 41 at-bats. Torres has struggled since the All-Star break, with a .164 batting average and a .278 on-base percentage. Obviously, he is still working back from his injury before the all-star break, but he was a big part of the early year success and will need to get back to improve for the stretch run.

Player of the Game

Aaron Hicks scratched out two singles against Jacob DeGrom and drove in the first run for the Yankees. He reached base three times overall as he drew a walk in the eighth inning. The singles were not particularly hard-hit balls, but against DeGrom you take what you can get. He has a .402 OBP since the all-star break and is on pace to set a career high in WAR.

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New York Yankees

The Yankees are still dropping the ball regarding social issues

Matt Gregory



Jun 17, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics fans wave flags on pride night during the first inning of the game against the San Diego Padres at Coliseum. Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Tuesday, reported that the Yankees are planning to commemorate the Stonewall Riots with events in 2019. There have been no confirmations for the 2019 promotional calendar but states that several sources confirmed internal discussions to finalize the details of the events.

The Yankees later announced that they were reinstating their relationship with Papa John’s late Friday night, according to The move comes less than a month after suspending the relationship after finding out the face of the brand and CEO, John Schattner, used the n-word during a conference call in May.

A source with knowledge of the situation told that there will be a rebranding of some Papa John’s logos in Yankee stadium, specifically to emphasize that the locations at the stadium are “locally owned and operated.”

Here’s the statement the Yankees released:

“As a result of the significant steps recently taken by Papa John’s, including the removal of their founder from all facets of their business, the Yankees have agreed to resume their relationship with the company,” the Yankees said in a statement late Friday night.

As we stated last month, we found the remarks made by the Papa John’s founder to be reprehensible, and our feelings on the matter have not changed.

The Yankees have had a longstanding relationship with 120 Papa John’s local franchise locations within the tri-state area, and we feel strongly that this incident does not represent their principles, values or their responsibilities to the communities they serve.

Papa John’s is implementing important and sincere measures to restore customers’ faith in their brand, including the launch of a diversity and inclusion committee, and a third-party audit of their company’s practices. We are confident the company will continue to take the appropriate measures to show their commitment to preventing such an egregious incident from happening again in the future.”

The move is disappointing and unfortunately, not surprising. The Yankees continue to prioritize their business opportunities and money streams over showing their fans that they do not support a business founded by a man who felt comfortable saying the n-word in a meeting. The move is indefensible and at this point, fans can only hope that there is enough negative feedback that the team will eventually consider severing all ties to the company.

Even with this small step forward to connect with the LGBTQ+ community, it came after backlash that the Yankees were one of two teams to not hold an event in 2018. It is a positive step and hopefully, it is not the last that the Yankees take to honor and work with the LGBTQ+ community. Still, with social issues even when the Yankees take one step forward, they find another way to take two steps back.

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