Bill Madden of the New York Daily News wrote a column over the weekend hyping 23-year-old prospect Eduardo Nunez as the Yankees’ eventual successor to Derek Jeter at shortstop.
Madden frames it as if the Mariners asking for Nunez held up the Cliff Lee trade. That could be technically true in that at some point general manager Brian Cashman surely said no to adding more and more prospects to the proposal, but Nunez was hardly the centerpiece of the negotiations and the Yankees would have gladly given him up in a deal for Lee if they felt the rest of the package was reasonable.
Madden also quotes two different scouts who have doubts about Nunez both offensively and defensively, none of which stops the columnist from writing that he “is viewed as a big part of the Yankee future.” Mark me down as skeptical, to say the least.
Nunez is still fairly young and has plenty of physical tools, so he’s certainly capable of developing further and becoming a viable big leaguer. However, right now he looks like utility infielder material after hitting .289 with a .340 on-base percentage and .381 slugging percentage in 118 games at Triple-A this season. Nunez managed just four homers in 464 at-bats and drew just 32 walks in 506 plate appearances.
At some point Jeter will cease being New York’s shortstop and when that time comes the Yankees may turn to someone like Nunez to take over for him, but he’s far from a top prospect, let alone “a big part of the Yankees’ future.” Barring some major improvements, Nunez looks a lot more like a Bubba Crosby than a Robinson Cano as far as promising young Yankees go.
The Yankees guaranteed their place in the postseason with a 5-1 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday. Sonny Gray led the charge against their division rivals, clinching his 10th win of the season with six innings of four-hit, one-run, four-strikeout ball.
Gray worked into a little trouble in the first inning, putting runners in scoring position after Josh Donaldson drew a four-pitch walk and Justin Smoak advanced him with a single. The Yankees’ ace induced two quick outs to end the threat, but was overpowered by a Teoscar Hernandez home run in the third inning, the rookie’s fourth blast of the season:
Thankfully for the Yankees, that was the only run that slipped through the cracks. Gray finished the remainder of his outing with two hits and two walks and was backed by another three scoreless innings from the bullpen. Greg Bird supplied the go-ahead run with a three-RBI shot in the fifth inning, plating Chase Headley and Starlin Castro to give the Yankees their first lead of the night.
Todd Frazier tacked on another solo homer in the eighth, while Starlin Castro returned in the ninth to cap the win with an RBI single. Aroldis Chapman did the rest, wielding just 10 pitches to get three straight outs from Kendrys Morales, Kevin Pillar and Rob Refsnyder.
Following Saturday’s win, the Yankees have at least secured one wild card berth, though they’re not out of the division race just yet. They still sit a full four games back of first place in the AL East, with eight games left to play.
Brian Dozier had a bonafide Little League moment during Saturday’s contest against the Tigers. In the first inning, the Twins’ second baseman squared up a bunt against Detroit left-hander Matt Boyd, which was scooped by Jeimer Candelario halfway up the third base line. The throw to first skirted the bag, allowing Dozier to touch all the bases and slide home to score the Twins’ first run of the game.
In other words, it was just your run-of-the-mill bunt home run:
Officially, the play was scored as a single and run scored on a throwing error. Still, if this is a sampling of the kind of plays we can expect to see from the Twins this October, it’s shaping up to be one wacky postseason.