Astros sign Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel

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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports that the Houston Astros have signed Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel to 5-year, $47.5 million deal.

Gurriel, a 32-year-old third baseman, batted .535 with a 1.615 OPS and 10 home runs over 23 games last season in Cuba’s Serie Nacional and he registered a 1.009 OPS in 49 games the season before. Here’s a scouting report on Gurriel from 2080’s Dave Defriates from a few months back. Short version: his bat probably plays in the bigs right now, but his defense can be erratic, even if he is generally competent at third. At 32 you figure that the defense will not improve, of course, so his window as a big contributor is likely to be somewhat narrow, even if he could provide a lot of help to a club for a few years with his bat.

It’s unclear what Houston’s plans are for Gurriel, but they could use help at first base and DH, and it’s not crazy to think the Gurriel could slot into those positions. Alternative, Luis Valbuena could move across the diamond to first base — he’s played there a little bit in the past — and Gurriel could play his natural position.

One assumes there will be some minor league ramp-up time first, but the Astros do have a lot of ground to cover to catch the Rangers, and Gurriel could help them cover it.

On a night full of letdowns, Yankees’ defense let them down the most

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Game 4 of the ALCS was a gigantic letdown for the Yankees for myriad reasons. They lost, first and foremost, 8-3 to the Astros to fall behind three games to one. Their fans continued to act boorishly. CC Sabathia exited with an injury, likely the final time he’ll pitch in his career. The offense went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

The biggest letdown of the night, though, was the Yankees’ defense. They committed four errors, their highest total in a postseason game since committing five errors in Game 2 of the 1976 ALCS.

Make no mistake: the two three-run home runs hit by George Springer and Carlos Correa, given up by Masahiro and Chad Green respectively, were the big blows in the game. But the errors contributed to the loss and were downright demoralizing.

The first error came at the start of the top of the sixth inning, when Alex Bregman hit a cue shot to first baseman DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu couldn’t read the bounce and the ball clanked off of his knee, allowing Bregman to reach safely. He would score later in the inning on Correa’s blast.

The Yankees committed two errors in the top of the eighth, leading to a run. Yuli Gurriel hit another grounder to LeMahieu, which he couldn’t handle. That not only allowed Gurriel to reach safely, but Bregman — who led off with a double — moved to third base. He would score when second baseman Gleyber Torres couldn’t handle a Yordan Álvarez grounder.

Error number four occurred when Altuve hit a grounder to Torres to lead off the top of the ninth. The ball skipped right under his glove. Facing Michael Brantley, Jonathan Loaisiga uncorked a wild pitch which advanced Altuve to second base. Brantley followed up with a line drive single to left field, plating Altuve for another run. Loaisiga would throw another wild pitch facing Bregman but that one didn’t come back to haunt him.

The Yankees can’t control injuries, the behavior of their fans, or how good the Astros’ pitching is on any given night. They can control the quality of their defense. On Thursday, it was a farce, and now they’re staring down the barrel of having to win three consecutive games against the Astros to stave off elimination.