Tag: Tyler Austin

News & Notes: Red Sox Discipline, Minor League Contraction, & Some Old Friends

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Red Sox Sign Stealing Penalties

Rob Manfred handed down discipline related to the league’s investigation into the Red Sox organization’s behavior during the 2018 season. The commissioner placed the onus on the team’s replay system operator, JT Watkins. That said, some players clearly had to be involved for the scheme to work. Manfred also noted that the team’s transgressions were not at the level of what the Astros did previously. Essentially, Watkins decoded the signals for the players to use when they were on second base and could share the information with the hitter.

As a result, these are the penalties:

  • Watkins has been suspended for all of 2020, including the postseason. He cannot serve in that position in 2021, though he can return in another capacity.
  • The Red Sox must forfeit their 2nd round draft pick this year.
  • Alex Cora is suspended for 2020, but not for his conduct as Red Sox manager. Rather, for his conduct while Houston’s bench coach in 2017.

State of the Minor League structure

According to Baseball America’s JJ Cooper, the MiLB is prepared to concede 40 affiliates in a new Professional Baseball Agreement with the MLB. There was quite a bit of public pushback when we first heard this rumored months ago, but to hear that MiLB is willing to accept this is a bit of a shock. For what it’s worth MiLB released a statement countering Cooper’s report.

There’s been some concern about the future of the Staten Island Yankees with regard to the new PBA. Pinstriped Prospects’ Robert Pimpsner wrote about what this means for the Yankees’ short-season A-ball affiliate.

A-Rod and J-Lo to bid for the Mets?

My first reaction to the Variety report: this would be so weird. I know A-Rod grew up a Mets fan, but it’s just weird to envision him becoming the face of the club after being with the Yankees for so long. And J-Lo is from the Bronx, of course. But hey, money talks if they can accumulate enough of it. The power couple needs to raise a good deal of money in order to purchase the Mets from the Wilpon family. They’ve enlisted the help of JPMorgan Chase to do so.

The Mets were nearly sold to Steve Cohen just months ago before negotiations fell apart near the finish line. Nothing ever comes easy with the Wilpons, so one would have to imagine things won’t be much different this time around.

In any case, should this actually come to fruition, we could have A-Rod vs. Derek Jeter in the same division!

Checking in on an old friend

Brendan Kuty of NJ.com caught up with ex-Yankee Tyler Austin, who signed with the DeNA BayStars of Yokohama for the 2020 season. Gotta be honest, I totally missed that Austin was headed to the NPB this year. I knew he had bounced around with a few MLB clubs after the Yankees dealt him to Minnesota and figured he was still around. Anyway, playing in Japan would be a nice opportunity for Austin to re-establish himself. Unfortunately, like for everyone else, the coronavirus has gotten in the way.

Checking in on another old friend

The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler caught up with Aaron Small of 2005 Yankees’ fame. The journeyman righty provided that 2005 club a shot in the arm when he pitched to a 3.20 ERA in 15 games (9 starts) and went 10-0. Then 33 years-old, it was the only real success Small had at the big league level. But wow, was it an incredible run and story at the time.

Dumpster Diving: Bargain shopping for the Yankees in August

Godley (MLB Gif)

In previous seasons, we’d have written about players on waivers and what leftover trades the Yankees could make to shore up their depth, particularly with even more injuries hitting the roster. This season is different.

With no August trades allowed of 40-man roster players, the Yankees would have to bargain shopping to add to their organization. Lucky for them, there are a few interesting pieces who have been released in recent weeks or sit in Triple-A on MiLB deals. Let’s get into it.

Zack Godley

Just two years ago, Zack Godley was one of most productive pitchers in baseball, pitching to a 3.37 ERA with 165 strikeouts in 155 innings for the D-backs. However, in two years, his ERA has ballooned by three runs and he was given his release from Arizona at age 29.

Godley never had elite velocity, but he’s lost 1 mph off his sinker and cutter, make the former extremely hittable. It’s also probably affected the performance of his go-to pitch a sharp knuckle-curve that he throws 45 percent of the time.

While he’s been hit hard this season, he also gave up plenty of hard hits in 2017 and still limited exit velocity. His K-BB ratio has fallen below 2.0 and he’s suffered from more balls in play with those balls leaving the yard more often.

Normally, I’m unsure if pitchers would want to rebuild value at Yankee Stadium. However, if the Yankees are interested, Godley would have a chance to join a championship-caliber roster. Furthermore, the House that George Built is playing as a pitchers park this year.

Brad Brach

The 2016 All-Star reliever and AL East veteran was recently released by the Cubs. There was plenty of reason as he had a 6.13 ERA in Chicago. Brach was excellent as recently as the second half of 2018, when he dominated down the stretch for the Braves after a deadline trade.

What was different for him this year? Walks. He walked 15.5 percent of batters. His K-BB rate has fallen in three consecutive seasons despite his K-rate ticking up this year. He’s also had his pitches hit for higher average exit velocity.

Brach still keeps the ball in the ballpark and suffered from an abnormally low 65.9 percent strand rate. His FIP (4.12) suggests he should be closer to his late Baltimore levels.

The right-hander still throws his fastball in the mid-90s. His slider has gotten strong results (.200 BA against, 36.1 percent whiff rate) and could perhaps benefit from more usage.

Ervin Santana, Parker Bridwell and Vidal Nuno III

I’m grouping these three pitchers because each are in that second category, pitchers in the Minor Leagues that aren’t on 40-man rosters and haven’t been outrighted off the 40-man. Each has MLB experience and would be an intriguing fit in New York.

Ervin Santana had an MLB stint in April, but he was awful for White Sox. His velocity was down from his impressive 2017 season, though he dealt with an abbreviated Spring Training. He’s had solid numbers for the Syracuse Mets, albeit still without many strikeouts. A deal with the Mets is always unlikely, though perhaps they’d be more amenable with a veteran depth piece. The Mets, though, could be holding onto him as depth for themselves.

Bridwell and Nuno, meanwhile, have each struggled in Triple-A this year. Bridwell, for example, has a 7.85 ERA in Triple-A for the Angels with 1.90 HR per nine in the unforgiving Pacific Coast League. That’s just two years removed from 121 innings for Anaheim with a 3.64 ERA. However, his strikeouts are way up from his pitch-to-contact MLB days and he has both a high-spin fastball and curveball, despite poor other Statcast numbers.

The Yankees clearly liked something about Bridwell, carrying him on their 40-man roster for a brief period this offseason.

Nuno might be the toughest to acquire, pitching for the division-rival Rays in Durham. He’s the same soft-tossing lefty he’s always been, but he has an ERA above seven in Triple-A this year. As he’s turned to his slider more and more in his MLB career, he’s been able to get more strikeouts while still finding ways to limit hard contact. If he were a free agent, I’d strongly advocate for adding him as an innings eater in long relief.

Neil Ramirez

Ramirez is a 30-year-old right-handed reliever who was recently let go by the Indians in his second season with the club.

The idea with him is simple: He features a mid-90s fastball and has high spin on that fastball and his curve, the latter which he throws just 11 percent of the time. Could he benefit from more fastballs up in the zone and curveballs low? The problem is his control: He’s always had high walk totals and might be incapable of getting his command in place. Worth a flier.

Or maybe not. He reportedly appears to be closing in on a contract with the Jays.

Tyler Austin and Joe Panik

These two position players were each released by the Giants in the last week. I’ve focused on pitchers with this post, but the Yankees have plenty of familiarity with Austin and Panik would be an intriguing buy-low candidate.

Austin would be a bat-first first baseman for the Yankees. There might be bad blood after the team dealt him last year, but he has pop in his bat, albeit not enough to stick in the Bronx. The Yankees probably prefer Mike Ford and a healthy Luke Voit precludes this signing, yet he would be a nice depth piece.

However, he might not even be the next best first baseman in the organization with Ryan McBroom raking in Triple-A. Austin had just an 81 wRC+ this season with a rising strikeout rate, albeit playing in perhaps the worst park for his right-center field approach.

Panik hasn’t performed well enough in the past few injury-plagued seasons to be worth more than a Minor League deal. He’s hit for a 75 and 69 wRC+, respectively, in the last two seasons and hasn’t shown any power either in results (seven homers in 205 games) or exit velocity (1.1 mph below league average).

The second baseman’s top talent is his ability to put the ball in play and avoid strikeouts. He consistently posts one of the best strikeout rates in the game (under 10 percent) and has walked nearly as often as he’s fanned this season. Taking a chance on a player with that contact profile would be an interesting fit.

As an added bonus, he grew up a Yankee fan and could produce a great tabloid headline.

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